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    TotW 81a – Batman Forever
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No Picture.
    Winner - Devilsdaughter77
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    My heart is wild and free
    It's easy to capture
    And hard to set free
    You captured mine on a rainy night
    False promises and broken dreams
    You said them all to get me to trust you
    Set me free and lie no more
    Tell me the truth and make me believe
    This is the end to a summer romance
    It's time for me to take back what's mine
    I can't let you hurt me anymore
    I never should have let you hurt me to begin with
    Sometimes I wish this was all a dream
    A dream that dies away quickly
    Never to return again
    Whenever you hurt me
    It breaks my heart
    Should it hurt this much to love someone?
    I never thought it would
    We spend so much time together
    By now we should know each others habits
    Most of the time, we compromise on things
    But not lately
    You have changed into someone I don't know
    Why let me back into your life?
    Why continue to hurt someone that you have feelings for?
    I may never know the answers to these questions that I want to ask
    But I do know that as humans, we tend to hurt those that we love the most
    Or the ones that we share the pillow with
    Love is a common ground or feeling that we share
    Cherish what you have
    One day it might be around when you need it the most




    Entrant 1 - AggonyOkeenan
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Schon Grabern - A French Perspective.

    Or An Irish batman and a Russian joker.

    Bloody Hell, I left Ireland because of the revolution and I ended up batman to a fool of an aristocrat at the arse end of the world. Austria, Arsetria what’s the difference I say. We’d marched all day as fast as you like, expecting a fight at the other end. And then the orders came through that we’re to sit and watch while the enemy entrenches. Part of some cunning plan of Murat’s. He seemed to think we could take Austria by sleight of hand and never mind the bayonets. So there we are by the picket lines it was bloody cold and it had been raining all day. Officers said we weren’t to speak to the enemy but damned if anyone listened, including the officers. My man, the aptly named Capitaine Le Fleur, was as eager as the next man to eyeball the bastards before we had at them. Now I won’t say I didn’t feel the same at the time but a little discipline from higher up might have stopped what happened next.

    Both sides were happily jabbering and yelling nonsense at each other without any understanding anything of what the other was saying. Then an enemy officer marches up with one of his men as bold as you like. The officer keeps his trap shut but the ranker starts speaking better french than what I can.

    He starts telling us how their orders are to stop us here and how they mean to do it. One of our grenadiers starts telling him how we’d already beaten them once and we were going to do it again. And that’s when the Russian musketeer informs us that those were Austrian soldiers we’d chased from the field and how they were going to make us dance like they did under Suvorov. By this time the rest of the Russian soldiers were cheering him on. The grenadier tried to tell him it was ancient history but the Russian told him loud and clear “The devil skin your Emperor!” then yelled something in Russian which got an even louder cheer from the Russians. With that he turned and strode off before our man could reply.

    I tell you it was an ill omen and it left everyone feeling uneasy. Within an hour a messenger galloped into camp and the order came through we were to attack immediately. The Emperor was displeased with Murat and the attack was rushed because of that.

    We were on the right flank and at first we had the best of it. We outnumbered the enemy and soon we had them retreating and we thought cut off. Luckily for them, the Russian unicorns in the centre had been punishing the village we had to pass by. It was burning fiercely and smoke was everywhere. We had to stop and damp it down. Musketeers were sent several times to take the cannons but were driven back by grapeshot each time. The cannons were firing at a furious pace. Despite that we had soon outflanked and surrounded the enemy. Soon it seemed they were in full paniced retreat. Le Fleur ordered our advance. We were to chase them down and through the woods in front of us. Some way off a unit of Hussars charged away from us in an attempt to escape the net. Others had already disappeared into the woods. We unleashed our muskets and one man had his horse shot from under him and tumbled to the ground.

    We’d already taken some prisoners and here looked like another, we jogged towards the woods and this fellow threw his pistol at the nearest of us, then staggered off towards the treeline. A few of us took aim to teach him a lesson when a fusilade burst from the wood killing and injuring a good number of us. They had sharpshooters in the wood. Most of us had yet to reload. No sooner had that happened when screaming out of the woods like demons from the pit came a unit of Russian musketeers, with who at their front but the same musketeer from the picketline and some madman flourishing a sword and screaming at the top of his lungs. At that awful sight most of the men threw down their guns and fled in the opposite direction, while Le Fleur screamed at them to hold fast. I stood by him like a fool, but not for long because the musketeer unleashed a musket ball at me and I was knocked over by the force of it. Though truth be told he’d clipped me and I was barely injured. I saw Le Fleur throwing up his hands before I’d even struck the ground. Needless to say I stayed down. I waited til it got dark and slunk back towards our lines. You can say what you like about the Russians but they don’t lack courage. After that battle I just couldn’t take France or the French army seriously. I guess thanks to that Russian joker.

    Entrant 2 - Nanny de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    (From the Diary of Dick Grayson aka Robin)

    June 1st, 1967 - The Commissioner came over today, but he and THE Batman (the bastard still insists on the THE) had another "closed door meeting". What I am, chopped liver? Holy snub, Spiderman.

    June 2nd - Another ribbon-cutting at the "Super-Models for Helping Dying Animals" shelter. My job today? Bruce gave me a lint brush to make sure his black remains BLACK. is starting to think he's an actual bat. And I bet he's going home with the blonde. Sigh. Another day that he tries to forget our forbidden love. Jerk.

    June 3rd - He wore the cape with the little yellow stripe, so I guess he wants us to get a little funky tonight. Oh damn. Bat-signal. Another cat in a tree I'm sure. Somebody shoot me now.

    June 4th - Not a cat yesterday...some retard named "Riddler". FFS. Moses told those jokes to the Pharaoh.

    (June 4th...supplementary) - I thought it was Bruce's homegrown product at first, but I swear when I punched one of Riddler's goons, I saw little bubble words above my head. Looked like "Kapow!" or something. I need a vacation. And btw...if you watched the late-night local news, you'd think THE Batman took care of those guys by himself. Ya, the camera caught my left ear as I was standing behind a beat cop in the background. And there is Bruce, front and center, with shorts so tight it looks like he's smuggling olives into Gotham. I should email TMZ and out the guy. (edit...what is TMZ? what is email?)

    June 20th - just returned from vacation. The pay is crap cause Bruce is a cheap bastard so I have to moonlight as a male masseuse. Some big mucky-muck who leads some group "American Family Coalition" hired me to travel with him around Europe, all hush hush. A good gig, but he made me pray alot. I miss The Joker. That dude is a FREAK!

    June 22nd - Catwoman? Really? Is the writer's strike still on?

    June 23rd - OK, I WASN'T imagining it. OMFG I swear I saw words above my head yesterday! "Kapowee!!" with cheesy cartoonish explosions around it. Thinking about mentioning it to Bruce, but I'm a little afraid he'll think I'm tripping and that he'll fire me for a younger cub. Maybe I'll ask that snooty butler...he claims to know everything.

    June 24th - Alfred was useless. He always answers a question with a question. He's not my shrink ffs. Stupid git.

    June 25th - Bruce visited me last night again. You know, he wouldn't be a bad lover but the real contents of his utility belt are the stuff of nightmares. When he left, I was crying for my mommy. Rocking and crying.

    God I hate life.

    Entrant 3 - Borissomeone
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    'The Party'

    Nearly night time and nearly time for me to go to work, the soft breeze pulls at my facial hair as I wait for the sun to disappear behind the hills. A final blush lights the evening sky as I pull on my mask and ready myself for tonight’s action. People don’t really understand how important it is the stretch, me I know, other people don’t just understand that you can’t win a fight when you’re all tense and tight in the shoulders. I mean how do explain you failed a mission because you pulled a ham string or twisted your back, fools are every where these days. I hope tonight’s mission goes well; I don’t really care why I’ve been sent to kill this man and his family, it’s just another task set by the master. The completion of this mission means is I can finally afford that new sword I’ve been eyeing off and maybe take my family out for a nice meal. That reminds me I better try not to get to much blood on my shinobi shozoko, mother does get rather mad when I do that…

    The outer wall is nothing to me, I flow up it without breaking a sweat and dropped down into the yard beyond. Nothing not a sound comes from the sprawling house, this is odd for the sun has only just set and they couldn’t have gone to sleep just yet. Moving from shadow to shadow I dance through the gloom of the new evening, just another patch of darkness in the night. Making the side of the home I find a glass door and test to see if it’s open, I may be a Ninja but I’m also lazy and when life gives you opportunities like this, an unlocked door you take it. The door slides open, score, I smile and slip into the dark home. I know I need to pass through this room to reach the main living areas, its time to find the family and end this mission. I have this niggling thought at the back of my head that maybe I should have checked and made sure that they would be home tonight…pushing that thought to the back of my mind I continue to move across the wide room when the lights suddenly blaze to life and I’m confronted by a room full of people wearing silly hats and a banner running from one end of the roof to the other saying ‘Happy Birthday Nanna’. Oh I thought that was tomorrow night…damn.

    So what would any good Ninja do in a situation like this? Well as the party goers realise that I’m not some fancy stripper sent to give Nanna a lap dance I spring into action. Flinging smoke bombs into the milling crowd I go to work. First Dad, a blade to the throat and he drops down kicking and spraying blood, next Mum, a sharp kick drops her to the ground and a jab of my blade ends her screaming. Chaos now rules this house as guests run into the night and I finally cut down the last member of the family, if they had been smart they would have fled with the rest of the guests and not tried to hide in a home I knew every corner of, foolish is what most people are.

    Dropping back over the wall I can see flashing lights in the distance, time for me to leave. Another mission over I think of the new sword I wanted and maybe I will take the family out for a nice meal now…oh crap what’s this. I notice for the first time how much blood I have on me, Mother won’t be happy.



    TotW 82a – Reap What You Sow
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No Picture.
    Winner - Bucket of Lithium
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    Westron wind, when will thou blow?

    The lyrics came unbidden, bursting forth from half-remembered fireside nights and the cajoling of taverns. Here they were out of place upon fields of grassy sheen and striking shades. In the city of longing and of love and of life they deserved to roam, free to enter the ear of the young, foolish men away from the battlefield.

    The small rain down can rain.

    The building patter of the swelling storm’s downpour had long endured. From one side it appeared a cascade of tears upon the faces of the other. That purplish beast above would not relent until a mighty upheaval capable of rending the heavens. A horn sounded faintly from behind, a dim murmur drowned by the now marching of feet.

    Christ, if my love were in my arms,

    The feet fell harder and faster and the horns boomed louder and no halt could now be made. Onwards and onwards the minds of men focused, yet each carried the selfsame thought. What would be left behind in this mad dash, this flurry of arms and clash of speed, lightening crash and tearing force. Love could not catch this pace and still ever onwards the charge! Thunder! Soldier shattered with splintering shields and swung swords and storm breaking!

    And I in my bed again.


    Entrant 1 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    "Too Funky"

    Hey, You're Just Too Funky For Me
    I gotta get inside of you
    And i'll show you heaven if you let me
    Hey you just too funky for me
    I gotta get inside, (i gotta get inside)
    I gotta get inside of you (so when will that be)
    I watch your fingers working overtime (overtime)
    I got to thinking that they should be mine. Oh!
    I'd love to see you naked baby
    I'd like to think that sometime maybe
    Tonight, if that's all right, yeah!

    Hey, you"re just too funky for me
    I gotta get inside of you, (won't let you go)
    Won't let you, no-no
    Hey you just too funky for me
    I gotta get inside, (i gotta get inside)
    I gotta get inside of you (i'll let you love me)
    I watch you drinkin' and i take my time
    I watch you drinkin' all that cheap red wine, oh!
    I've got to see you naked baby
    I'd like to think that sometime maybe
    Tonight my goal's in sight, yeah!

    Baby, baby, baby why do you do this to me?
    Won't let you go, (won't let you go)
    You're such a, you're such a
    Baby, baby, baby why do you do this to me?
    I've got to know. (i've got to know)
    (i'm gonna be the kind of lover that you never had)
    Hey you're just too funky
    (you're never gonna have another lover in your bed)
    You're just too funky for me

    (would you like me to seduce you, is that what your trying to tell me?)
    (everybody wants a lover like that) baby
    (everybody wants a lover like that) yeah! Yeah!
    (everybody wants a lover like that) everybody, everybody
    (everybody wants a lover like that)
    (everybody wants a lover, everybody wants a lover like that
    Everybody wants a lover, everybody wants a lover like that
    Everybody wants a lover, everybody wants a lover like that
    Everybody wants a lover, everybody wants a lover like that)
    (would you like me to seduce you?)
    You're such a, you're such a
    (would you like me to seduce you?) Yeah! Yeah!
    (would you like me to seduce you?) You're such a, you're such a
    Yeah!yeah!

    (would you stop playing with that radio of yours, i'm trying to get to sleep!)


    Entrant 2 - Nanny de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Flashbulbs burst
    To illuminate faces
    Just bricks, and mortar
    Of times and places
    Of wishing and hoping
    And regret and loss
    Treasures and dreams sold
    at so little cost.

    Footprints of souls
    Litter terrain
    echoes and ghosts
    all that remain
    Casualties of war
    But heroes all
    Unmarked graves
    Where lovers fall.

    A voice from beyond
    Whispers in ear
    Looking for answers
    From one once held dear
    But silent response
    That dream now sold
    At so little cost
    By hearts turned cold.

    Entrant 3 - Borissomeone
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    'Hero'

    So here I am lying in a ditch filled with dirty water, to my back sits the bulk of The Hills. A one time nature reserve and now a breeding ground for Roo’s and worse, trees ride landscape in abundance as massive boulders sit and watch the land around them, grey silent sentinels who have seen it all. The Hills are surrounded by abandoned suburbs, parks and designer lakes that once were graced by small boats and laughing people and off in the haze of the day sits the city proper, a collection of tall buildings that now slowly fall apart as the years wore on. I pray to what ever god is listening I never get sent there.

    It’s funny you know, they said that global warming was going to kill the earth and all that lived on it, they were so wrong! I guess no one knew that the Ripples would come and life as we know it was going to be ed seven ways to Sunday. A narrow dirt track separates the valley below from The Hills, a mass of broken homes and town houses litter the valley floor, I can’t believe I once lived down there, now it was really a no mans land. Only a complete idiot would try and live back down there, and let me en tell you a few had tried, but none had lived to talk about it. Now getting back to my troubles, I, well we of the Civilian Defenders Force or the C.D.F had been given orders to come and try and get back six families that had tried to come and resettle a townhouse complex down near the lake.

    The day had started off like any other in this ed up world of ours; the sun had just crested and lit the sky a brilliant gold colour with just a touch of orange. I stand before the mirror of my tiny room, my bleary eyes look back at my wore face, a smattering of gray litters my dark brown hair as I scrub a hand over my face trying to wake myself up, man what a way to start the day, I think as I ready myself for the coming journey.

    As beams of light painted the land around us we piled into a few beat up trucks, twenty men and women; most young unlike me at the age of thirty six I was considered a veteran of this unit. Anyone who managed to live more than a few weeks in the C.D.F was thought to be a mad killer and a veteran in the ways of war. Leaning back against the thick canvass I try and relax knowing that soon I’m going to be in the yet again.

    The trucks had roared out of the old shopping centre we called home, past the outer wall of packed earth, twisted metal and sharpened steaks, towers with men and women of our town armed with shotties and fraggers and a few had old hunting rifles. In the hay day before the Ripples ripped the world apart this area was an up market shopping district. Now the sporting grounds were used to grow food and keep live stock and the small lakes used for fishing. There were a few places like this that populated the surrounding area, our town was call Belco One and off to the North was the township of Gunn all linked by the Parkway a stretch of dual carriage way that you only travelled if you really needed to and in numbers. The land around the Parkway was now thick with forests and the massive lake that once was the focal point for the broken city now sat silent expect for the occasional ripple as something big moved under the deep blue of the lakes water. To the south sat the township of The Plaza, a tangle of high rises and a shopping district much like ours, didn’t go there much too many people for my liking, arrogant as well, just because they live in high rises…en losers.

    We roar off under the watch of grim eyed men and women as we went to try and save the families, en council should know that the dumb s are more than likely dead by now. The regular army wouldn’t help since we were outside the area they deemed important, mostly they guarded the few major cities that didn’t go to , which were only a few along the coast. I guess that’s why we of the glorious C. D. F were formed…we do the and fight the wilderness and save the fools who try and make a living out here, go us…We had arrived at a deserted local shops, broken widows stare back at us as we climb down from the trucks. The men and women of my unit start to check their weapons, most of us are armed with shotties and carry fraggers, and a few have side arms or carry a blade. Me I have my trusty shotgun and two fraggers and a little surprise hidden in my mismatched body armour. As the sun paints the surrounding area in bright light I squint up at The Hills, knowing the complex the families had travel to be just below the start of that tangled wilderness. They should have known better than to try and re-settle such a ed up area and I guess they found out when the distress signal fired up during the night. The others grumble about having to hoof it up there, but the roads are pretty messed up. Much of the area was over grown with thick stands of trees and gardens gone wild, probably the only good thing to come from the Ripples was the Earth seemed to right its self and rains fell again, crops grew like mad and there was actually enough food for all…those of us that still lived. A strange future indeed we had found ourselves in.

    Weapons ready fifteen of us set off, all wary and hopefully ready for action. We make a motley bunch in our body armour that doesn’t quite match as we trudge up the hill and towards the complex. It’s not long before we know this is going to be one ed up situation. Between two houses is the first body, the man has had his ribs ripped open and his insides eaten, a look of horror is stretched over his face. A few of the newer members are sick in the lush grass the surrounds the corpse, as I watch the surrounding area, there are too many places for anything to hide as homes stretch off into the distance riding the swell and dips of this valley that was once home to so many. We leave him and try and decide if we go any further when the comm’s girl picks up a fresh signal coming from just up on the edge of The Hills. I know that no one is alive and maybe that’s why I still live because I don’t take stupid risks for dead people, but the others want to see if anyone is still kicking so we continue on. We come to the complex and find the carnage inside. Even I’m slightly sickened by what we find; it looked as if someone chopped up the families with a lawn mower and then decided to eat bits as the fancy took them. From the looks of things it got crazy judging from the spent shells and a few fragger blast marks that mar the ground. Now most want to leave but as we turn and begin to head back we hear a faint wail on the wind, me someone is alive. Not waiting for the others I start to make my way towards the wailing. I slip and scrabble my way over broken ground and old retaining wall fighting my way towards the thin wail that the tries to steal away every chance it gets.

    I spot the source on top of a tall finger of rock; a young boy sits and cries as shadows from the clouds above race over the land, darkness and light paint the scene as I look around trying to see what could be lurking in the dappled land around the rock. Nothing… it I should know better than this, but that kid some how lived through a night of terror and I felt I owed it to him as the last of the survivors. Only one other has followed me as the rest of the unit mill about watching from below. The man looks at me and grins, his hands clutching at the grip of his shotgun and a slightly wild look in his eyes, he mumbles to me something about being a legend. Not sure if he’s talking about me or him and don’t really care as long as he knows what he’s doing.

    As we move forward we find ourselves on a narrow dirt track, a fire break from the days when people actually worried about having their homes burnt down. Creeping forward I’m not really surprised when from the shadows of the rock a nightmare for most is given birth as a large Roo stalks out, now most would think the sight of a Kangaroo wouldn’t inspire too much fear in most people, but the Ripples had changed the Roo’s like so much in the world. Now the beasts sported front arms that had grown in length, ending in razor sharp claws. The rear legs enable them to jump great distances now being even more heavily muscled and the fact they now loved to eat people made them a right en nightmare, oh let’s not forget most stood taller than grown man and this one before us looked like he was ready to chow down on our flesh. My companion charges forward his shottie blazing, grass and dirt kick up around the Roo who suddenly bounds forward landing on the unfortunate man, knocking him flat. Both arms pinned by its thick legs the Roo latches onto the mans neck and tries to pull his head off. I fire landing a shot on in between the Roo’s shoulders, dirty grey fur and blood fly into the air as I fire again hoping to kill the bastard. Turning from its prey the Roo turns its blood shot eyes on me and lets out one of the distinctive barks as it readies to charge. Things seem to slow down as it comes for me, flesh and blood dribbling from its gore encrusted maw it barks again, diving to the side at the last moment the Roo’s flies past as I land another shot into its side, thinking I may have landed a killing shot I’m surprised when its tail lashes out and sends me spinning into the drainage ditch.

    Dazed I lay in the dirty water I’m hoping it thinks I’m dead, me luck is with me as it goes back and worries the body of my companion a little more, but the boy, his luck just ran out as he loses balance and topples from his perch. Hitting the ground the kid cries out in pain and like a moth to the flame the Roo turns its hate filled eyes to the boy. Moving forward in its clumsy gait the Roo gets ready for desert, ah I hate being a hero but I think I have no choice now as I reach up into my body armour and pull out my one and only spiker.

    Rising from the ditch like some sort of swamp monster I stagger forward the spiker held at the ready. The Roo spins with terrible speed, but not quite fast enough I guess being shot a few time slows one down. With a bellow I slam the spiker down into one of its muscle bound shoulders. Maybe I should have thought about it a little more but when it comes to hammer time most forget the little things…like the blast radius of the Spiker. Three rapid beeps and the spiker detonates, the last thing I see is blood and fire.

    I must have blacked out for a moment for I wake up with the small boy shaking me, trying his best to drag me up right. Groaning I sit up and see why he’s so keen to get me up and moving. Three more Roo’s are making their way down toward us, each just as ugly and big as the last. I see the first laying still twitching but not getting up again; a gaping wound shows bone and pumps blood out in slowing spurts. Well I guess I’m dead, not much I can do about it now as I stand and push the boy behind me. Pulling a fragger I fling one at the approaching mob of Roo’s, dirt, grass and fur again fly into the this bright days air. I fling another…nothing, a dud. I briefly wonder if I could win a fist fight with these horrors, the thought makes me smile. Not long now as I pull the boy to me hiding his face so he won’t see his death coming. I’m surprised to see sudden flowers of blood and dirty grey fur plume from the Roo’s. Finally my fellow C.D.F members actually grow some balls and decide to help. With barks of rage the Roo’s are driven away and we retreat back down the hill and the relative safety of the trucks. Perhaps its time for a career change, I think as the trucks start to make their way back to our township. The boy has fallen asleep as he huddles in my lap, his little face dirty and streaked with tears, well at least we saved one today…




    Entrant 4 - .Mitch.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The time had come.
    Written by Mitch.

    June 6th, it was 1:05pm.. Things didn’t seem to be on schedule.
    Regardless, we were close to getting our feet on the beach; we approached the dry sand.
    We all looked at each other, knowing the time was soon to come.
    My brother was next to me, all of my friends around me. We waited.
    As time passed, all we could do was stare at the shoreline, we looked up beyond the steady cliff in anticipation of things to come.
    Our goal lay there, we all knew it, each of us. That’s where we wanted to be, more than anything, that’s where we needed to be.

    Then, the proverbial time came. Time to run, to charge, to forget about everything, to keep your head down, to not look up, do not look around, just run, run up the beach, get up the embankment.
    That was everything, everything we wanted nothing more, that was to be our victory today. Just get to the top.

    We had to swim a little, we waded in. Eventually our feet met the sand. We took one last glance at each other and started running, running as fast as we could.
    People, my friends, falling everywhere, face first into the cold water, tripping in the sand. I had no time to stop, we couldn’t.

    1:06pm, a minute had passed.. it had seemed like a lifetime. We all kept our eyes fixed on our target, the top of the embankment, past the sand, onto the concrete.
    We just kept running, as fast as we could. I took a quick look back. I saw my brother fall forward into the sand.
    I looked down, it hurt me, I was still running, I knew I couldn’t stop to help him.
    It’s sad to say but there were more important things, we all knew it, that why every single one of us was running right now at this moment..

    There was nobody ahead of me. I could only guess at how many where right behind me. The noise was deafening, everybody there was shouting, screaming, some were simply silent.

    The sand started to harden, I could feel it beneath my feet, the sand eventually began to turn to dust.
    The dust soon became concrete.
    As I finished climbing to the top of this slight hill, my legs started to become tired.. very tired. From the water to here, it felt like a mile.
    I stopped in between my step, glanced back. Many had given up, just decided to lie on the beach, looking up at the rest still in the fight, climbing the embankment.

    I reached the top, I was still at the front, strage to say, at this point I almost regretted it, I felt nervous, more nervous than ever before. It struck me, all of these people where after the same goal as I, and here I was at the front.

    I stopped for a second. Looked around. My eyes struggling to find my target.
    There! There it was, I finally got my eyes fixed on it. Once more I started running, I knew in my heart it was almost over, I knew I’d made it!!

    I forgot about everything around me, I knew it was wrong of me but I no longer cared about my brother!
    There, there!! A few more yards and I was there, I’d done it, overcome everything! My legs felt weak, they wobbled as they tried to hold me up.

    Just as I reached it, my goal!!! I looked back once more, and I was the first still. I could now see people starting to pile over the top of the crest, down from the beach. But then… as they ran towards me, they stopped. I was smiling.. but the smile faded.. I could.. sense.. something was wrong.

    I turned around.. and then... well I wished I stayed on the beach..

    The ice-cream van was driving away, right in front of me..
    We’d come out of the sea.. we’d ran up the beach, I’d beaten everyone here, I was going to be first to get my ice-cream! And it drove away…

    I wanted to die.

    The time had come, he’d arrived.. I was to be first in line. Everything I’d fought so hard for.. faded away into the distance. His tune atop his van now seemed to be teasing me.
    It had lured us from the water and up the beach. Caused mass hysteria.

    And for nothing..

    Entrant 5 - Katsumoto
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    An unusual breeze flutters my unbuttoned black shirt as a bright sun illuminates the concrete metropolis. Manhattan is even busier than normal on this hot summer day; tourists and natives alike bustle along the heated streets like pilgrims during Hajj. I take another drag of my half-burnt cigarette, watching the masses flow past through my dark shades – they are like zombies: a man could collapse to the ground and die and they wouldn’t even bat an eyelid. All the better for me.

    There. Elvis has left the building, and not a minute too soon. My mark exits the office block through a pair of revolving doors to my right. He’s exhausted; a briefcase hangs limply from a weak arm; his collar and tie are in a complete state; his suit jacket jumps and waves in the flustering wind. Perfect. He won’t know what hit him.

    The butt of my cigarette falls gently to the pavement as I move casually from my position by a wall. As I glance upon my mark I am reminded of a hunter stalking its prey. I smirk; I am a lion and he is a sheep; a bald eagle and a river salmon. I begin to trail him as he wanders hastily down the squalid street, his mind clearly elsewhere. I brush past a large woman and her child as street vendors heckle the passing pedestrians. “Sir, I’ve got the finest burgers in all of New York,” one calls to me. “You’d be a fool to miss out on ‘em!” I don’t even bother looking at this poor man, lying through his teeth to try and sell me junk that isn’t even fit for a rat, let alone a human being.

    I am ten metres behind my target. His pace has quickened. Has he spotted me? No chance. There are at least twenty others between me and him; realisation will strike him only when it is too late.

    He stops. I continue moving through the crowd, my eyes fixed on his figure. He stands by a kiosk, glancing at the day’s papers. Suddenly his view shifts towards me. My heart jumps but my face reveals nothing. He watches as I maintain my stride. I glance casually to my right, feigning interest in a store front; I don’t even know what it sells before I enter it.

    Figures. A sex shop. Rubber dildos in all sizes hang from a metal rack; ‘Buy one, get one free!’ a proud offer declares. Adult movies line the shelves. Mannequins at the back are garlanded with black latex masks, coupled with other ungodly contraptions. I am dumbfounded by the sight.

    “Can I help you, sir?” A young clerk asks. His dark greasy hair covers half his face; piercings line the outside of his left ear – a black and white skull t-shirt completes the set. I stand like an idiot in the doorway.

    I reply accordingly like a fool. “Err, no, I’m just browsing.” I mind-slap myself. The clerk looks at me with an odd gaze that says ‘What’s this guy doing in here?’ I ask myself the same question before promptly exiting this disturbing tomb.

    A sharp gust shocks me back to business as I leave the shop. I turn once more to my right, searching for my mark. I don’t find him. How long was I in there? It couldn’t have been longer than a few moments; sometimes that’s all it takes to lose your target. I stride swiftly to his last known position. My eyes are a hawk’s; they scour the faces of passersby, darting from one to another in milliseconds. Still I can’t see him. Panic begins to enter my thought process; immediately my training pushes it out. There! A sigh of relief leaves my lips as I spot him crossing the street ahead, no more than twenty metres away. My pace quickens to a near jog as I try to catch up.

    I push past pedestrians as I begin to close the gap; I bump into several, who consequently complain. In the rush I accidently knock into a young woman; she’s nearly thrown off her feet by my larger mass. I don’t even have time to apologise – much to the anger of her boyfriend.

    “What the hell do you think you’re doing, buddy?” he yells. I try to move away but he grabs me by my shoulder, spinning me to face him. It’s not my day. He begins lecturing me like a child. I beg my pardon and again begin to leave – it’s still not enough for him as he grabs my wrist. I have no time to play; with my free arm I grab the hand gripping my wrist. A swift jolt removes it and allows me to push his strained arm into his body, throwing him to the ground. I’m gone before the first gasp even leaves the onlookers’ mouth.

    The mission is turning into chaos. Again the mark has momentarily left my sight. I recover quicker than before – he stands now on the other side of the street, speaking into a phone. The footlight is red. I can’t cross. Cars whizz past me. I glance over my shoulder – the angry bear is back up again, seeking me. I look ahead. My target has finished his call and is moving on. The light is still red. Anger begins to mount; experience tells me to calm – adapt to the situation and complete the contract. I do so. The light goes green. I am the first out of the blocks. I reach the other side within seconds.

    Finally, I catch up. My mark walks in front of me, clear as day. I wipe a bead of sweat from my brow. Now I wait. I check my shoulder holster; my compact SIG-Sauer sits neatly underneath my left armpit; the suppressor for it is tucked nicely into my back pocket. I am ready.

    My opportunity comes. The mark turns right into a dark alley, the vivid rays of the sun not able to enter its depths. I follow him in.

    My black shoes tap onto the cracked concrete, the sound amplified by the narrow corridor. My mark turns – realisation has struck, and just like I predicted, far too late. I draw my pistol and attach the silencer with a casual ease. My target is frozen still from fear. Like the deer in the wilderness, alerted by a snapping twig, it simply stares at the source of the sound, fixed from fright. My mark stares now. He stares down the elongated barrel of my pistol as I bring it up to his face. His terrified eyes stare as my finger wraps around the trigger. Still they stare as the bullet is spat from the muzzle with a whisper, the spent casing flinging into the air as the deadly projectile bursts point blank into the paralysed face, ejecting from the back of the head in a spray of blood and brain. The startled stare has now become eternal.

    I am gone before the body strikes the floor. Thus the Devil’s work has been done once more.

    Entrant 6 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    A Day in the Life of a Random

    Living in 12th century Italy was hard enough, even more so when your name was Steve and all the other people had extremely gay names Luigi, Mario, Georgio or Benito Mussolini, which was a popular name among the populace, espiecally for those radical right-wingers who believed in all out no rights.
    Steve was born to a wench of a mum and a drunk of a dad, whose names he never learnt due to their inability to pronounce them properly without passing out. He had been named Steve as a joke by some locals attending the Inn where he had been concieved, which was called something pathetic like The King's Favourite. Ironically enough, the city of Torino had no King and ironically, the Duke ordered the place burnt to the ground because the name was blasphemous. Steve became a soldier after that and was a veteran of many wars the Republic of Genoa faced, such as the war with Milan which involved heavy verbal fighting of which Steve was a veteran of. All the Italian Wars were fought like that, with words, which is why the Italians sucked at WWII which was over 800 years later.
    Steve devised a new way of fighting which involved swords, which would usually be carried around as a something of a decoration before the Italians learnt it could kill people. Before that, only being verbally burnt extremely bad or being killed by Diarrhea was the only way of death in the Italian States.
    Steve changed Italian Military temporarily when a Milanese dog insulted his face, so he simply drew his sword and awkwardly killed the bastard. His mates used it as an example and soon the entire Milanese army was dead, because the Genoese finally worked out what the rest of Europe used swords for.
    By 1138, 18 years after his birth, Steve had risen to the rank of Professional Insulter, or otherwise known as, a Captain, oh, and Italians used to employ little kids in their armies because the adults are to busy throwing feces or making spaghetti or ocassionally pizza.
    In 1140, Steve led an army towards the city of Venice, but managed to get them all killed because despite living on the waterfront, most of his army drowned crossing the lagoon due to their inability to swim. Steve was horrified as the Venetians mooned him and then launched a volley of verbal insults at him, which bounced off Steve's mental armour.
    Drawing his sword, Steve crossed the bridge and charged into the Venice. The Venetian Archer-Name Callers launched flight after flight of insult at him, only for them to bounce off his impenetrable mental armour. Soon Steve had stormed the city and only the Doge's palace remained.
    Steve easily stormed the place and the Doge challenged him to a duel, which went like this.
    "When you make Pizza! People throw up and put it in the trash!" challenged the Doge. The amassed crowd of Venetians goes wild as their Doge reveals himself as a master name caller.
    Steve steps forward and beheads the faggot.
    The crowd goes silent.
    And Steve slaughtered everyone there.
    Despite capturing Venice, and slaying the Doge, the Duke was unhappy about the watery demise of his entire army and banished Steve from Genoa.
    So anyway, Steve crossed the Alps and went to Germany where he worked for the Emperor Agolm Hidler, who had a near annoying obsession with the destruction of the following:
    Jews, Poles, Gypsies, Cripples, Retards, French, Belgians, Hollandish?, Austrians, Pommies, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Norwegians, Slavs, Lithuanians, Greeks, Americans, the Commonwealth, Russians...and you get the picture...he hated everything.
    Anyway, Steve did some dirty work for him before until the Emperor committed suicide in an underground bunker for no apparent reason but some said he predicted the future or some screwed up crap like that, the guy was totally messed up.
    By 1150, aged 30, Steve came to Denmark who were currently fighting the Swedes and the Norwegians. Steve served on the front line and taught the Danish the use of weapons such as the bow, the sword and the horse, plus, he taught them dragging Viking Longboats across land to attack your enemies wasn't really a smart idea. And, he taught the Danes the use of politics and solving every problem with your axe wasn't always the proper way to do it.
    With these advantages, the Norwegians and Swedes were destroyed due to them using pre-Steve tactics the Danish had grown out of. Anyway, Steve vanished in the night one midday aftermoon according to the Danes and took a Viking Boat to the England.
    Upon arriving, he was disgusted by the fact that the English only drunk tea, and often drunken Scots would come down from the Highlands and simply scare the English away with the flying kilt tactic. He taught them to drink beer, ale and other crap that generally makes you like all those other idiots who ran around in Medieval Europe. So the English got drunk, messed with their head, and overthrew King Henry? and replaced him with King Tonyblair.
    By 1160, Steve was the eldest man in the country and was referred as to *The Man Before Time* but he soon left England for Spain where he was overwhelmed by the racism there. He sorted the differences between the Spanish and the Moroccans and even drew a borderline for them. Sadly, as soon as he left, Spain begun their Reconquista again after witnessing a Muslim sacrifice a goat to Allah.
    In 1198, Steve was fighting in Acre when a Muslim stabbed him, cut his arms and legs off and then beheaded him, blood went everywhere and guts poured all over the dusty ground. Funnily enough, Steve was a simple tourist at the time and the Muslim had picked on him for unabated reasons.
    But Steve lived a long life, 78, although his excellent Italian education meant he lost count as 22, but yeh, so ends the tale of Steve.

    Entrant 7 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
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    The night of a performance there is always a certain “buzz” in the air. The musicians tuning their instruments, getting in that last bit of practice before the big event, the conductor checking in with his first chair musicians, making sure that everyone and everything is as it should be. The conductor was a middle-aged man with a crystal ball for a bald spot and a thick, black mustache to compensate. He was chubby, but not in a jolly, old Saint Nick kind of way. He was more likely to sigh than to laugh, and if he winked at you it would not be a reassuring, twinkle-in-the-eye wink. Now he was storming about, yelling at the pianist here, reminding the cellists not to go into the crescendo to fast, telling the violinists that their staccato must be perfect or the song is ruined, and generally being more of a bother than a help. But anybody who had worked with him knew that was just his way of coping with the stress of a big performance, a mechanism which made it convenient for him to shift the blame if need be. 30 bars to the symbols.
    Soon, he was calling for order and gathering everyone together. He gazed across the group of musicians, his watery, green-blue eyes scanning for any visual imperfections. Satisfied, he nodded, and they began to move to the stage in a single file procession. The pianist went first, followed by the harp, then percussionist, the violinists and violists, the cellists, and finally bass. They found their seats and waited. The roar of voices became a murmur, the murmur became silence. The conductor raised his baton, and with his down stroke they began. The staccato of the violins began, the piano joined, soon the viola and cello were in the back of the song, then the bassists joined. 18 bars to the symbols.
    The audience gazed intently, here and there one might spot a yawn, catch a glimpse of someone's face contorting and blinking, attempting the stifle a sneeze. The musicians, of course, saw none of this, their gaze never left the pages of the song, they could not afford to look away. If anyone had cared to look, they might have noticed a man in a tuxedo in the back of the room, gazing intently at the center of the stage. Of course, he could have been invisible, for the only people facing him were the musicians, and they were locked in on the stand before them. Everyone else was too interested in the front of the room to glance back, even for a moment. 9 bars to the symbols.
    As the song continued, it neared the crescendo, the arc of the piece, the peak of the sound. The man at the back casually glanced up at one of the boxes overlooking the auditorium. In the box was a young man, no more than 30, and a briefcase, though that was obscured from view. The man at the back scratched his cheek with all five of his fingers. The man in the box coughed. The musicians played on. 4 bars to the symbols.
    The song was a mere 13 seconds from the crescendo. The percussionist readied his symbols. The man in the back scratched his cheek with three fingers. The man in the box opened his briefcase and pulled out a long, thin object, though the majority of it was obscured by the walls of the box. The entire band hit one, loud note, and the symbols crashed. Had anyone been looking at the box, they might have noticed a quick flash of light. Had anyone been nearby, they might have heard a crack, like a whip. And, had anyone been sitting in the box across from the flash, next to one Jacob A. Parker, entrepreneur and multimillionaire, they might have noticed a large hole in his head. But the musicians were looking at the pages, the audience was looking at the stage, and for Jacob A. Parker, this was a night to be spent alone, away from people.
    The band continues.

    Entrant 8 - Tim1988
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Dervorin cursed silently under his breath. This was not what he had been told about. The scouts had reported that they would be ambushing a small Easterling patrol. They had mentioned nothing about any Mumakils. They would pose a whole new challenge.

    All around him the rangers crouched in the bushes waiting for his signal to fire. The tension was palpable, every breath seemed loud enough to alert the enemy of their presence. Sweat ran down their faces, making thin rivulets through the grime that weeks in the field produced. This was due to nerves and not the heat though; in fact the morning breeze was refreshingly cool. Even the veterans were scared. The mumakils were enemies to be feared.

    As the giant beasts entered the shallow waters of the ford and began the crossing, Dervorin drew back on his bowstring and took aim. His arm was steady despite his nerves, years of killing had seen to that. Along the tree-line, the rest of the rangers did the same. Dervorin counted to three in his head and then released. The arrow flew true, flying through the air and taking the rider of the lead Mumak in the throat. Around him hundreds of other arrows whisked through the air, creating an almost peaceful whooshing sound until they impacted with the enemy. Before the easterlings had even realized that they were under attack the next volley of arrows was in the air, such was the skill of the rangers of Gondor.

    The mumakil had been disabled with the first volley. Dervorin had ordered his best shots to take out their riders and now, free from their control they turned around and charged away. The remaining few Easterlings that hadn't already been killed turned and started to flee when they saw this, but they too were cut down as they ran by a third volley of arrows. The whole fight had taken a matter of seconds and now the rangers emerged from the cover and moved forwards, drawing their knives and dispatching any Easterlings that still survived.

    Dervorin looked on with pride at his men. They had done him proud yet again. If only there were more men like these then the threat of Mordor would soon be nothing more than a distant memory.

    (Screenshot by Finlander)

    Entrant 9 - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    We care

    One has to be insane to want to be a doctor, a graduate of Medicine School, one has to be insane, really; I can attest to that. Even more if you don’t have any family that has gone through Med school before, you are just nuts if you just decided to wake up this or the other day and say: “Hey! I think I´ll be studying Medicine now!” And that´s what I did.
    “You´re crazy.” My mother said to me. Nice way to boost her son´s confidence but that´s ok.
    I entered Med school knowing squat about Anatomy or Physiology or Pathology wearing a white coat that had been my brother´s and a pair of white shoes that were as old as I was, I joined my classmates for the first class without knowing no one, not one student, not one teacher, no one. I stood there waiting for the doctor to arrive looking at some of my classmates well groomed newly bought white coats and dazzling ties, fancy shoes and hearing them talk about how their father´s had recommended them to join Med school, or talking about which was the better Anatomy book or how they knew already a bunch of the basic greek terms that are used on our career, everyone there had more money than I had ever seen in my life, with sparkling new cell phones and powerful laptops, new cars… all bought by daddy of course….I found myself despising them.
    Anyhow, the classes set off, if I had knew the amount of workload I ´d have to cope with I only would have been more eager to enter Med school, now that´s real work and not silly things. Of course my classmates accustomed to private schools and having a servant do everything for them soon began to complain. “It´s too much for one night.” They said, I´m sure some assignments cramped their going out and getting wasted plans. Tough luck I said to them.
    Even though I lost many sleep nights and even though I lost some of my friends and even though I lost contact with my family (while still living in the same house) I wouldn´t change Medicine School for nothing in the world, not for all the gold in China, not for a week of royal sex with any woman of my choosing, I´d still cling on to my old white coat and my books.
    I have loved every second of it: the classes, the practices, the dissections, the discussions with other doctors (in which honorable presence I have been invited into due to my good marks), the Anatomy´s jokes, the knowledge of knowing what the heck goes on inside your body, the irony of smoking a cigarette inside a school (and a Medicine School for that matter), I have loved every second of it.
    And I have been told that it only keeps on getting harder and harder during the School years, and that then Hell waits for you in the form of internship and that then it gets tougher for you leave the school and start to fend off in a world, the medical world, that is cruel and rough and unforgiving with those that do not have the required knowledge to treat their patients.
    I shrug off such comments with ease. What will come, will come and then I´ll have to face it. And I will go through hell if it means that I´ll learn more and become better at what I´ll be. And I´ll do it, like the thousands that have came before me, because I care.




    TotW 83a – Wizard of Oz
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No Picture.
    Winner - Valandur
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    Beginning of the End

    The gate rumbled as the foul demonspawn beat against the metal hinges again...
    One hundred Boletarian soldiers, the last bastion in Boletaria, all armed to the teeth and prepared to fight to the death, stood ready to beat back the invaders. The city of Boletaria had fallen prior to the Demon assault on the Palace, the Boletarian Army had been masacred on the walls and over a million citizens of the once great Kingdom were devoured by the Demon Horde.
    When one died, two more took its place, and when one of us fell, there was just an empty hole in the line. Beings all mythical appearances, blob throwing javelins, flying humanoid beasts, hordes of Zombie like creatures, skeletons of the conjured dead...and dragons, flying dragons that breathed fire.
    The whole of Boletaria had fallen to these creatures. Millions of men, women, and children lay dead across the once peaceful plains. We never expected this...never...
    "Soldiers of Boletaria!" shouted a uniformed Officer standing on an overturned wagon. "We are all that is left. We defend the honour of our Kingdom, and we will honour our dead by driving these foul creatures back into oblivion from which they came".
    The Boletarian Palace was an ideal place to defend. A pass in the mountains seperated it from the city itself and at the end of the pass was the gate which we were defending now. Behind us is a long, bridge like staircase, on which the other end lies a gate, and a labryinth of Palace rooms. Beyond the second gate lies a large chamber, and a corridor that leads to the a long bridge, guarded by battle towers of immense structure. Then lies another, narrow gate, which behind lies what used to be an Arena where all the Boletarian national games were held. Beyond that is a maze of alleys and majestic pathways that lead up to the Palace itself, and the throne of our King, Allant XII.
    The Demons beat upon the gate again with whatever dreaded force they had mustered behind it. Dozens of Boletarian soldiers poured down the stairs by the second as whatever man governed the city ordered the final strength of Boletaria to defend the gate.
    I stood in the third row of the massive shield wall that nervously held together behind the gate. Behind us stood dozens of crossbowmen, ready to fire a rain of bolts into the first enemies that breached the gate. On the barbican of the gate itself stood nearly fifty crossbowmen, already subject to the sight beneath them.
    "What do you see?" cried the Officer upon the wagon.
    "A mass of Dreglings and Skeletons gather beneath us", cried the Officer on the wall. "I'll report anything capable of breaking down the gate". Dreglings, those are what the Zombie like creatures are called. Easy to kill and usually armed with nothing, but dangerous in masses.
    "Once they take this bridge, the trebuchets on the wall will be fired to blow the bridge, okay!"
    "Do you think they'll break through?" asked a green face recruit behind me.
    "Definately", answered an older veteran, "from my experience, they'll bring something that'll cause us all to die within seconds".
    I sighed. The man was probably right. I'd seen towering monstrosities destroying the largest buildings in the city below. Entire fortifications had been overcome in minutes because of how much the Demons outmatched the Soldiers. And now they have numbers on their side.
    "Captain!" shouted a man upon the wall. "A dragon! And...Captain there is a huge..." Suddenly the krenels on the Barbican were blown from the wall as a huge blade, the size of a small tree, decaptitated them as if they were bread. Dozens of soldiers were blown off the wall, their dying screams ending as the ground rushed up to meet them. Suddenly dozens of winged beasts, humanoids but with demon faces and wings, rushed over the barbican, lifting the few remaining soldiers on the wall and dropping them into the huge moat next to the large staircase bridge.
    A stone the size of a melon bounced off my shield as I lifted it to shield myself from debris. If a Demon could just destroy the barbican as if it was thin air, then what good could I do with this sword? And this shield? Fear nearly overcame me in that moment and I felt like fleeing, I had better chances surviving then than I do here now.
    Suddenly the gate rumbled a hole, the size of a large shield, was blown open in the metal doorway. I tensed and tightened the grip of my sword and shield. It was only moments until I would meet death in some horrible fashion.
    "You three", said the officer, pointing to me and two other men. I hoped he would send me off to run messages back to the Palace and save me from this disaster. "Go check whats on the other side of the gate. Just looks through that hole...and report to me". I nearly succumbed to despair in that moment. Out of nearly the one thousand soldiers waiting in this general area, me and two others would be sent on a suicide mission.
    I stepped forward first, followed by my two companions, which happened to be that recruit and that veteran who had spoken earlier. All was silent as we approached the gate, not a sound from the outside, or a sound from our own comrades.
    I tried to edge away from the hole as I walked, but the Older Veteran noticed my movements and grabbed me by the shoulder. "I've seen enough death to know that my life isn't important", he said, "I'll look through the hole".
    "That's very kind of you sir", I stuttered.
    "It wasn't a favour", said the man.
    Me and the recruit, who's name was Teryadrin, leant back against the suddenly weak and fragile gate as the Veteran slowly approached the gate with his sword drawn. He stopped and looked through, and then suddenly drove his sword through the gap, which was followed by the groan of a dying Dregling. I looked at the Veteran and noticed him smiling, but suddenly his face turned into an avatar of shock as a long, sharp and glowing blade penetrated through the gate and lodged itself deep within the man's spine.
    Teryadrin cried out something incoherent and I quickly grabbed him and began to run back towards our own lines. Suddenly the world behind me seemed to explode as a huge, studded boot, smashed through the gate, shattering its hinges and sending shards flying in every direction. I nearly dove back into my own lines, Teryadrin in tow, who I nudged back behind the first row, where I now stood.
    I turned and face a horrifying site I would remember for the rest of my life. A lone figure stood there, standing abot seven feet tall and holding a sword nearly the same length as his height. He was clad in gold and silver armour, but his figure seemed to be covered in a blue glow.
    Suddenly the figure swung its sword and the body of the Veteran, which had been impaled on its tip, landed uselessly in front of our line.
    "It's the Penetrator!" cried one of the soldiers.
    I couldn't help myself from snickering at that comment, and I knew I wasn't alone. However, the comic moment was soon replaced by fear as a horde of Dreglings charged us, with fists, knives and the broken swords of the damned. The Penetrator strode in behind the horde, but what really captivated our view was the horror upon the broken barbican. A dragon, its scales the same colour as the fire it breathed, perched and suddenly leapt into the air.
    I barely glanced away and managed to intercept the first Dregling that crashed heedlessly into our line. I shuddered as my blade pierced its corpereal flesh. I raised my shield and let a second one crash into it, while skewering a third one which dodged it. I quickly took the initiative and swung my shield across to my right, knocking away two Dreglings while stepping forward and stabbing the one that had fallen to the ground from bouncing off my shield.
    I realised the men to my left and right had been quickly slain, leaving my flanks unprotected. I tried to step away but fell over the body of one of my fallen comrades and landed on the cold, blood soaked ground. One dreglings leapt onto me but recieved a sword in its throat for its stupidity while a second Dregling was left with a slashed stomach from coming to close. I tried to edge away from the fighting, but was still a few metres from our broken line and two Dreglings leapt atop me before I could gather me defences. One held a knife and stood ready to plunge when....
    A huge blade swept across just a metre above me head, slicing the two dreglings in half and as far as I know, everyone standing up within a radius of twenty metres. I looked up and saw what had caused the gate to crash...
    A huge Knight like figure, twenty metres high and clad in silver armour, knocked aside the broken barbican as if it was a twig and lifted his blade from his timely saviour of myself. Only thing is now, he wasn't going to accidently save me again. His shield was nearly as high as himself, and to myself, he appeared to be unstoppable.
    I looked around and tried to hide myself in the masses of the dead that surrounded me. Only half of our initial force stood standing and most of those were routing back into the Palace Complex. Only about twenty soldiers stood fighting around me and those were quickly being overcome by the masses of Dreglings.
    Suddenly I remembered the Trebuchets atop the wall...they were gonna break the bridge...Without thinking I leapt to my feet and ran towards the side of the bridge. Several Dreglings noticed and moved to intercept me, but fear had taken a hold of me and my own goal was to get off this bridge.
    Suddenly I stopped, without knowing, it was as if my feet had turned to stone. I slowly turned around and looked at the shadow that had suddenly shrouded my view. It stood there, the Tower Knight, with its massive shield, ready to end my existence. And then I leapt off the bridge, facing the icy cold water dozens of metres below.
    It was my only hope...
    The water felt like knives digging into my chest...


    Entrant 1 - Katsumoto
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Beautiful Game





    A fury of passion ignites the chorus of the crowd - roars and cheers fill the stage of the stadium. Utter pandemonium results, men and children, women and the elderly, all together, in this playground of the world.

    The ball is struck. Players run with pace, seeking to strike the leather; millions watch on their screens at home, bedazzled by this display of brilliance. Families gather, cities stay still – completely transfixed.

    A rush on goal is met by a momentous cry. The defenders hasten to fight off the assault – the attackers press on with fire in their hearts – victory is what they yearn. A fierce tackle is evaded as the ball is passed onto a fellow. His engine ignites as he powers down the strait, the ball flying in front. Once more the defenders throw themselves into the fray, desperate to halt him in his tracks.

    They succeed. The ball is snatched from beneath him. Now the brave guardians of the goal rise to the occasion. Their feet are like snakes; slithering between the now disorientated strikers. The ball moves on, one to another, until it reaches the front. Now with a cutting counter-attack they dash towards the target; the audience is alight, galvanised by the magical zeal they are witnessing.

    With a tenacious thump the ball is launched from the champion’s feet. The globe glares. Everybody stands. The defenders are too far back to change anything; it is up to the gatekeeper himself. He reads the sphere’s trajectory – instinctively he dives towards it.

    With the tips of his leathered fingers he alters the ball’s powerful flight – it is not enough. It ricochets off the post and flies into the netting. The volcano erupts.

    Every being watching bursts from their seats in enormous exultance. The scorer slides by the corner flag – his expression hides nothing – he is the happiest man in the world. Joy and glory is theirs – the defeated team weeps, hands on faces, knees on grass, striking it with perpetual power. They are heartbroken.

    A choir of acclamation reverberates around the colosseum. The sturdiest of men weep, looking to the Heavens and thanking enthusiastically. The fans of the defeated are frozen dead – some manage to weep; most stay shocked – incapable of beholding the truth.

    Within minutes the arrangements are made. The victors stand, eager to lift their glorious award. Like children they giggle, ecstatic, unable to control their fidgeting arms. The losers take their pity prizes and depart. Now it is their time.

    The captain stands before the gold. He is astounded by the beauty. With delicate hands he lifts the trophy - a gigantic cheer leaves his voice – the world cheers with him. The arena is in a frenzy. Horns blow like never before. A multitude of colourful flags and banners wave in the stands. It is amazing. Forever will it be remembered - this most beautiful game of all.

    Entrant 2 - Ratzor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Nothing before had ever felt so right. Hador, clad in his wedding attire, felt tremblings along the whole of his body as he reached out to grasp the hand of his beloved. Her features struck him as without match in this moment of stoic commitment. The high cheek bones and her long, flowing brown hair tried to embrace him as a smile creased her face. She tried to speak to him, but he could not listen. Concerned Hador watched as his beloved's features turned from gleesome and smiling to desparing and frightened. She tried to scream and loose herself from his grip, but he would'nt let her go. Soon the other wedding guests ran them on either of the sides, pointing and stumbling from whatever it was Hador could'nt see. His beloved still in his grip, crying and writhing. Somewhere behind him a roaring sound suddenly enroached, as if all the forests had been momentarily set ablaze.

    Hador finaly turned around to distinguish the source of this sudden and terrible noise. What he could see was so devilish, so evil in appearance that he for a second forgot to breathe. As he turned around to run from this devilish apparition his beloved was nowhere to be seen, her hands no longer clutched to his. Afraid for her life he called out, but had to make his escape as the apparition moved in his wake. Fleeing along the mainstreet he could see mothers waiving their husbands goodbey, children grasping their skirts. Why did'nt they flee? "Run!" He called to them but they only looked at him confused. "Run for your lives!" he exclaimed a second time but to late. The monstrous creature had already caught up with him. Its fire engulfed arms reached ut for him. He tried to avoid them but the simply was no room to maneuver. Feeling the flames dancing along his back he screamed. The creature placed him face to face and between the surges off pain he could see its cruel countenance, adorned in horns and lucid of an inner inferno. "Why did'nt you rescue me my love?" it cried out with the voice of his fianceé "Why did you let me die my love?". "I did'nt let you die!" Hador replied, his tears evaporating in the scorching grasp. "Why did you abondon me my love?" it cried out again, now with her face embedded inside the creatures. A cruel and wicked parody of her beauty and timid nature. "I did not abandon you" Hador screamed in a broken voice. His ribs shattered as the grip hardened and his skin started to melt in perverse anguish. "But love, I know you did. You should'nt lie to your wife!" and with that the creature exploded in a cascade of light and fire. Hador could feel the very muscles and sinews of his body blast away, eventually standing in lucid harmony when nothing more than the skeleton was left to burn. A rumbling sound could be heard from all sides as if the earth erupted around him. Finaly, even his skeleton succumbed to the unforgiving flames. The final words to cross his dying mind was mere a single word: Eledhwen.



    "Wake up Hador!". A cringe of the morning sun met his eye as he slowly retracted from the tormenting slumber. To his left crouched Huirlen, the same who had retrieved him from his illusion. His yellow curls and pointy nose the dominant features of his face. In his usual manner he smiled at him cheerfully and slowly shook his head. "Having nightmares again? You know you really should cut back that Pelagian ale, spare us all some trouble." He rose and walked further back into the cave in wich they were currently residing. Hador positioned himself in a more seated position and recalled the events of the dream. It was the third time this week he dreamt the same dream, a dream he had not dreamt in years now. Some parts of the dream was distorted and unreal but he remembered the origin like it was yesterday. Contemplating the meaning of this he moved towards the dining area, wich really was nothing more than a couple of rocks of wich his small band of rangers had formed a circle. Perhaps it was due to the fact that they were close to the home of his childhood. Perhaps becouse it was almost ten years since the event occured.

    Dyrendil gave him a quick nood as he sat down on an adjecent stone. Dyrendil was the party scout and probably the best archer Harod knew east of the river Anduin. His dark, short hair and piercing eyes was excempt from his otherwise ordinary face. He was also straight forward, secretive and brief if he ever talked. The results of a life lived in constant danger and solitude. "Orcs have set up camp one league north of here" he said when Harod reached for a plate of vegetables, cooked potatoes and rabbit meat. "What are there numbers?" Harod anwsered while he took a bite of his meal. He noticed that Dyrendil looked meaningly at Thorbar and Maedor who also sat in the vicinity and understood that there was something unusual about this camp that Dyrendil wanted to report to him in private, before sharing any news with the rest of the men. With a quick nod Dyrendil implied that they should venture outside. Passing through the sleeping quarters and the temporary armory they reached the entrance. Targdol had the current watch and gave each of them a quick nod before he regained his vigil.

    When they had walked a good way from the cave Dyrendil finaly made halt. "What's so important that you have to drag me half a league into the woods before telling me?" Harod asked him. They had reached a creek and water pourled down a cliffside a few feet away. Before answering Dyrendil scoured the suroundings to make sure no one followed. When he was statisfied he finally said "The orcs are about a hundred or so.. however, there is a Nazgúl accompanying them". Baffled, Harod could only but exclaim "A Nazgúl!? what is one of Saurons servants doing here in these regions?". "I dont know captain, as I saw it was one of the nine and I thought you'd want to know". Processing this new information, Harod tried to think of what to do. Dyrendil had done well to uncover this information and made a wise decision to tell him seperately, or else it might have stirred up the men. "I think I know what to do. Gather the men, were about to face fear itself

    Entrant 3 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Banshee and the Hunter

    Jashin was a hunter, a hunter of all beasts, rare, dangerous, or elusive. Or all three. He was the best hunter in the entire country, perhaps the continent. He was small, by human standards especially but even amongst his own people, the Brevis, as the Humans new them, and the Falis as they knew themselves, he was considered short. The Falis were on average 4 feet tall, and he was just over 3 feet and 5 inches. Even with his small stature, though, he commanded respect. His jerkin was made of the hardest, most obsidian scales of the Vatana beast, his pants were pure Huin leather, a dull greyish-brown, though blue in water, his boots where of the most flexible yet sturdiest materials he knew, the wing-leather of the flying Yec. He had a brown leather belt across his waist and chest, and on his back he held his bow, a rival for a human longbow though less than half it's size, on his left hip he held his arrows, tipped with adamantium, flighted with the lightest feathers from the Yec, and next to his quiver was his knife, made of an unknown substance and recovered in the deep cave of the Vatana. He himself had light brown hair, with bangs to his eyebrows, covering his ears entirely, and continuing down to the center of his neck in the back. His eyes were a deep, ocean blue.

    He had hunted and killed nearly every kind of creature there was. Among the very few he had not was a Banshee. He had been looking to add one to his lists of hunts, and when he heard rumours of one near a tributary of the Great River, Kasit, he had made directly for it. He had made good time, and had arrived at the location within 3 days. Now he could see an abandoned mill, a likely place for a Banshee to dwell. He bent down and stuffed moss into his ears, then wrapped cloth around his head to hold it in. He drew his bow and knocked and arrow, then headed down the hill towards the mill. When he reached the outer perimeter, marked by a slight change from moss to grass on the ground, he heard it. The Banshee wailed, and even though his ears were blocked it could be heard as clear as if it were next to him. He resisted all urges to drop his weapon and smash his hands against his ears, for he realized that the sound was not so much in his ears but in his head. The pain would have been unbearable for a lesser person. He pushed on nonetheless. He reached the door to the mill, it was swollen and splintered from the moisture. He kicked it open, not risking taking his hand off his weapon for a second. Presently, he entered the building. It was dark, and the roof was sagging in many places, and in some it had collapsed completely. The light that shone in from those holes was reflected in the thick clouds of dust and moisture all around.

    Suddenly, he was knocked to his feet by a heavy blow to his back. Rolling around to face the aggressor, he cast eyes upon one of the most horrible creatures he had yet faced. It was surely once a beautiful woman, tall and fair, but now she was shriveled and dwarfed. Her sunken eyes were pure black, as though it were all pupil and no eye. She was clothed in a torn and molded gown, once red silk and now a mottled brown colour. He leaped to a crouch, pulled back an arrow and fired at her heart. She screamed, and the arrow stopped in mid air, then splintered and exploded in a cloud of wood. Some of the debris cut his face, the rest scraped his jerkin and pants. He deemed his bow an unsuitable weapon and drew his knife. He charged, quick footed and powerful all at once. She let loose a scream, and he slid to the floor, avoiding being pushed back. He leaped forward, renewing his charge for her heart. She inhaled, and he leaped. He was inches away with his knife when she let loose. He felt himself freeze in the air, then start to move back. Finally he was thrown, but at the last second he had thrown his knife at her exposed chest. He flew back into a wall, but his knife continued on into the mark. She screamed again, but now in agony and rage. Casting her eyes upon him, he saw they glowed red with rage. She flew towards him, her long sharp nails ahead like claws, and when they reached him they began slashing and tearing, a feral beast upon it's hapless prey. Now his jerkin did it's good work, her claws could not pierce the tough scales. He managed to get his hand around and arrow, and he drew it and thrust it in her neck. Again and again he stabbed, though no blood game out of her body. Instead, a fierce gust of wind shook the room, as she let out all her air. Then she fell upon the floor, dead. Jashin got up and crouched over her, and was reaching towards her when she exploded in a massive gale. He was pushed up and into the ceiling, which cracked in a great loud clap. He fell to the floor, winded. Then, a beam knocked loose by him slipped, and came falling towards him. He rolled, but too slow. The beam smashed into his head.

    Blackness.

    Last edited by Dance; May 10, 2013 at 11:46 AM.

  2. #22

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 84a – There's a NEW Sheriff in Town
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No Picture.
    Winner - Skantarios
    Spoiler for We are Rome




    We are Rome

    The old men of the Senate may say that they embody Rome. They may say that they are the law and the force that binds our people together. They may say that their debate guides the path of our country and shapes our destiny. Of course, they say many things…but they are wrong.

    For Rome is the Legions. Rome is duty, courage, discipline and honor. Rome is the gladius, the scutum, the pilum, and the flesh that wields them.

    Rome is not a law inscribed in bronze; it is a sword cast in steel. It is the spear, not the stylus, that commands respect. It is in the field, not in the forum, where the real battles are won. For what are words without the will to impose? What is law without men to enforce? What are treaties without the power to compel?

    It was not the Senate that conquered the Gauls, the Carthaginians, the Iberians, Celts, Germans, Greeks, Macedonians, and Egyptians. It was not the Senate that defeated Hannibal, Mithridates, Philip, and Antiochus. It was not the Senate that brought Rome into dominion from Europe to Africa to Asia. It was men with fire in their hearts and ice in their veins. It was the Legions. It was us.

    Our hands built the bridges and roads and fortifications of the Empire. Our legs marched thousands of leagues to hunt down those that would oppose Rome. Our backs bore the burdens of the long campaigns. Our bodies are still the armor of the frontier.

    Without us, the fine words of the Conscript Fathers mean nothing. Without us, the laws of the assemblies have no force. People do not follow the laws because they are just. They do not pay the taxes, levies, or tolls because they are fair. They obey because, if they do not, they must deal with us.


    We are the ones who bleed, sweat, kill, and die. We carry the standards and hold the line. We are the fire that keeps the darkness at bay.

    We are the fear in the guts of our enemies and the pride in the hearts of the people.

    We are the Soldiers of the Senate and People of Rome.

    We are the power.

    We are Rome.

    Entrant 1 - R-teen
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I thought I’d fall any minute. My head was swirling, the world was swirling around me. Madden as I was, I didn’t let my agony take over my, I couldn’t let my agony take over me.
    He called my name. He, Caius Valerius Flaccus, the consul of senate. And as hard as I could, I tried to bring my breathing to an even pace. I straightened my body, put my head up and steadily balanced my steps towards the place. I strode there in strong strides, and stood there firm.
    How ironic! I thought to myself. How ironic! How the hell did I end up here? I remembered years ago, when I was just a teen, how I yearned to join the Roman arms. How my father stood against it, for I was too young. For once in the all years since he passed away I was happy he was not here. He saw me becoming a commander of a maniple. But he wasn’t there with me when I took command of a legion. And as hard as I loved to still have him beside me, now of all times, I couldn’t come to regret that he left us years ago. I couldn’t bear to…
    -“Flavius!”
    My head snapped up involuntarily as the consul called my name. I could say from the way the audience were looking at me, that it wasn’t the first time he was calling me aloud. I must’ve been so preoccupied with my thoughts that I didn’t notice him earlier.
    I felt an ache in my hand, and looking for the source of pain, I found that I was gripping the handle of my kopis so hard. I tried to snap out of my consecutive thoughts. I looked up to him, cleared my throat. With a harsh voice, I replied:
    -“Yes?”
    -“As you already know, you were brought here to be interpellated.”
    He waited for second, and then went on.
    -“You are responsible for death of thousands of Romans - Roman soldiers - who dedicated themselves to the glory of Rome. And you threw their honorable lives away.”
    When he said that last sentence, I was glad he was not within the reach of my sword, for I would have his head chopped off and honorably accept the aftermath if he was.
    He continued:
    -“Let us get into details so we can discuss this thoroughly.”
    He waited, as if he was waiting for my confirmation. I guess he realized from my bloody look that I wasn’t going to open my mouth or nod.
    -“Alright, let’s get started then. You and the army under your command were stationed at the Petolanium* waiting for your advance. But all of a sudden, you acknowledge that a barbarian horde is heading your way.” He cleared his throat. “One of the people in the city, who had managed to escape, stated that you left the city. What explanation do you have for this? How could you run to save your own life, while sacrificing the life of your brothers? Were you too horrif…”
    I was almost starting to shake. I couldn’t bear to wait until his bloody lecture was over. I mouthed the words coarsely:
    -“I wasn’t trying to save my arse!”
    -“Really? How heroic! Then why else would you do such a thing?!”
    I tried to control my anger. I took a deep breath and went on.
    -“My scouts reported that there was a reinforcing army. They were going to join in three days or so. And together, they’d have outnumber us hugely, and there wasn’t any time for us to call for reinforcement, since the nearest legion was months away from us. So I thought the best call was to attack the second army and take them by surprise before they could join the main army.”

    “You could have withdrawn! You should have withdrawn! Instead of sending those men to a battle that was already lost, you could have fall back and wait for reinforcements. But instead, you sent them to death.”
    -“Listen you old pig, if it weren’t for them resistances, it was you who was being questioned by those barbarians in this very senate, and not me. Needless to say, we have already lost a city - a home of Roman people - to those barbarians. The live of Roman people is at their hands, and you’re wasting our time – the time you could spend, you should spend on planning to strike back – by questioning me.”
    I took two deep breaths and went on: “Besides, my plan worked well enough up to that point. We were to win the battle.”
    -“Oh then how the hell did it all ended up…” He’d lost his temper already. When he started again, the sound of objection of the audience raised, and he gave up.
    -“GO ON”
    He grumbled.
    -“I took the cavalry and went after the reinforcing army, and in the meantime, the rest of the legion was supposed to intercept the main army.”
    I stopped for a moment and searched for the words.
    -“We nearly reached the reinforcing army in the same evening. We rested the night there. They started marching in the early morning and so we shadowed them until noon.”
    -“Even if your stories are true, why did you miss the opportunity to attack in the night? You could’ve take them by surprise with a night attack and prevent this catastrophe.”
    I gnawed my teeth together.
    -“The place they used to night camp was at skirts of a rocky mount, given the fact that all my men were cavalrymen, I saw it was better if we didn’t attack them in that place. Besides, my men and their breeds were exhausted of the forced march. Furthermore, even if I had managed to confront them that night, the news of their annihilation would definitely reach the main army, and they’d watch out for us. What I was after was to flank them while they were engaged with the army – surprise them – but, our army was supposed to reach them, the two days after we went out for facing the reinforcing army.”
    -“Then why all the army is dead if your plan went so well O young commander Flavius?”
    -“It didn’t go so well.”
    I said with a sour and low sound. In my mind, came lingering the memories of all the brave soldiers, faithful friends and the respectable elders I’d lost. The breathtaking grieve struck me again. Why had I, of all the people of that army, survived alone? Why me? In the heat of battle, if only for a moment, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time, I would be as good as dead too. How ironic that I couldn’t call it the wrong place at the wrong time, If that place and that time, were to bring me the ultimate death, then I’d have embraced that as the right place at right time. Brave and veteran as we may be, in the heat of battle, if we are to die, it’s mostly a matter of…
    -“GO ON!”
    From his tone I realized that it must’ve been a while since my unconsciousness had knocked me out again. I opened my mouth to continue, but as hard as I pushed my mind, words weren’t there.
    -“I… I am sorry. I forgot what I was saying.”
    -“You were explaining the reason why your plan didn’t go well.”
    He expected me to grasp it and go on immediately, but described further when he saw my sheepish look.
    -“You were shadow marching the reinforcing army”
    I caught it finally. I went on with the same bitter voice.
    -“Ah… When they were about to rest for the noon, we charged. They had marched all the morning on foot and hadn’t eaten anything since then, and were exhausted. After three hours of bloody fighting, we were the ones standing.”
    I seemed to have regained some of voice, so I kept on in a more harsh tone.
    -“We immediately marched as fast as possible to reach the barbarians' main army. We marched until the late night, and so we did the next day. In the second night, we were very close to the main army. And our legion was supposed to engage them in the coming morning. Tomorrow, I waited till the noon so their flanks would be exposed and vulnerable for us to charge. And then, when we were approaching them, we were intercepted by a second reinforcing army we hadn’t have spotted before. This time their army was consisted of both infantry and cavalry. Their cavalry charged us, and so we engaged them. And their infantry went to reinforce their brothers. We’d have taken enough casualties yesterday to have a hard fight against their cavalry. And after 3-4 long hours of fighting, we defeated them…”
    My voice dropped again involuntarily.
    -“They were defeated… but we weren’t victorious either… Almost the entire cavalry force was destroyed.”
    The unbearable grieve struck again. I tried to fight it back.
    -“I gathered what was left… We formed up and rode for aiding the main army as fast as we could… The sun was beginning to dawn, it was twilight when we reached them… We reached them.”
    I closed my eyes for some moments. Opening them again, I whispered:
    -“But not soon enough…”
    My eyes were wet but I couldn’t let them tears start to drop. My hand started to ache again, both of them this time. If it was a human hand at my grips instead of the cold steel, it would have probably been broken by now.
    -“Oh we all know how much you loved them, no need to put up a façade, just go on with your story.”
    I didn’t react to his words. I was already in that other world inside of my brain. The words continued to come out involuntarily.
    -“It was… It was late already… The entire legion was dead… or captivated. They were killing or beheading the captives when we arrived.”
    My voice broke at 'beheading'. I sighed and continued:
    -“We were hardly 200 men, so I thought, there is nothing I can do for them, So I thought, why not save the ones I could?…”
    The consul stood up and started shouting:
    -“You were just trying to save your own life you scum! You didn’t give a damn about their lives.”
    I stood there looking, for the second time I was thankful that old bastard wasn’t within my reach or these would’ve been his last words.
    The audience objected to him to let me finish my words. And so he shut up.
    I for one, wasn’t willing to continue this at all. I didn’t care what they’d do with me. I just wished to be alone. Whether dead or alive, I just wanted to be alone right now. So I tried to be brief as possible.
    -“We ran into their trap… they surrounded us and we tried to fight our way out… Me and two of the others - Augustus and Marcus – were the only ones who made it.”
    My voice kept getting lower, I was almost whispering at the end
    . I tried to get a grip on myself.
    -“And they… died of their wounds the following day.”
    -“Enough!” He shouted. He stood up, his eyes searched through the audience.
    -“Alright gentlemen, you heard his words, lie or genuine, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to believe them or not. I was against of giving the command of that legion to this un-experienced arrogant boy from the start. And today, Rome has suffered the consequences of not listening to that. I was right about him all along. He was not only too young to command a legion, but also stubborn and blind. Even if he’s telling the truth, it was his irresponsibility that he overlooked a great enemy army, he underestimated them, he is responsible for the death of every Roman under his command. He is a traitor to Rome, and shall be executed for the blood of the Romans that he is…”
    With all my strength, I swung my sword and bashed the tribune in front of me. It collapsed in half and went airborne and landed between fifteen-twenty feet away from me. I raised my kopis and aimed at him and yelled.
    -“You listen you old bastard! Those were friends of mine who died there in front of me, right before my eyes, and don’t you even dare to lecture me on patriotism, because you and I both know of each other’s pasts. When my father was alive a scum like you didn’t have guts to raise his voice in front of me. Now you’re accusing me of having left to death people who were friends of mine, people who I was honored to be their brother in arms, their commander. MY BROTHERS YOU BASTARD! They were my compatriots! You know what does that mean? I doubt you do you scum. The depth of your corruptness befouls the very name of Roman. How dare you talk to me like that? How dare you? If I wasn’t grieving the loss of my companions, I would have made you pay for that right here!”
    His skin had become a bloody red, he was shaking too, but he put up a vicious smile and ordered the guards to arrest me. His voice too, was shaking. When they were taking me out he shouted:
    -“So that was the reason you insisted on coming with your arms, eh? You wanted to kill me all the way you son of a , didn’t you?!”
    I laughed inside. “You wretched clueless bastard” I thought.
    They took me outside in the street, and one of the guards who was senior to others dismissed them to go back to the senate. It was a pokey afternoon, and a cold breeze was blowing. It was getting dark.
    -“He’ll put a poll on executing you, comrade.”
    Said the guard. I looked up. He had a sympathizing look of a father on his face.
    -“Whatever.”
    -“Your father was a great man, and so are you. It’s a pain to see his legacy be treated like this.”
    -“Thanks for your concern. But really, I don’t care anymore.”
    He seemed to be dilly dallying to say something. He opened his mouth, but no word came out. After some moments he finally said:
    -“Ah… I don’t know what the outcome of the voting will be, but I can let you go right now…”
    I raised an eyebrow, and looked at him in silence. He said:
    “If you wish to, of course…”
    -“What will you do yourself then?”
    -“They won’t kill me you know, Even if they try to, I have some friends who care about me enough to break me out. I can run away and start a peaceful life as farmer. One way or the other, it’s better than serving the corrupt people like him.”
    I sighed and said:
    -“I’m afraid I have to take down your offer officer, thanks for offering though.”
    I smiled and continued.
    -“And uh, you may be older than me, but I outranked you until yesterday. So let me give you an advice… People like him come and go, but our motherland, not. You – and the likes of you - don’t serve him. You serve your country.”
    He was looking at me as I was still a commander addressing his officer, not his prisoner.
    He nodded and mouthed “Aye sir”. And a crooked smile stamped on his face.
    Some minutes past in silence until news came from the senate that I was voted by the majority to be freed.
    The senior officer turned to me and said with a grin on his face:
    -“You’re free to go pal”
    He held out his hand. I caught it and stood up. When I was getting to my feet he started to say:
    “and maybe sometime soon, you’ll earn your commandership back.”
    I smiled and said:
    -“Maybe.”
    My mind though, was somewhere else already.
    -“I hope we get to know each other more, friend.” Said the officer.
    -“I hope so too.”
    I said, putting my hands on his shoulders. A moment later, I was already on my way to leave. I was about ten steps away when I looked back over my shoulder and said:
    -“Another suggestion, don’t try that farming thing. Trust me, a warrior like you, wouldn’t have any luck at having a simple life.”
    He grinned and nodded.
    I walked and walked until I reached the city gates, I went to outskirts of the town and rented a horse, and rode off to the shore. When I reached there, the sun was almost set. I got off the horse and tied the animal to a tree, and went and sat on the beach sands, near the water. With each wave embracing me, I felt a tiny portion of my soul come back to me. It was cold, but with me being all wet now, it was damn freezing cold. It was refreshing, however. This pain of mine wouldn’t be buried anytime soon, and the curing of them was a process that these dashing waves were just a start to it.
    Sitting in these sands, came rolling before my eyes the memories of the friends I had lost the battle. The tears that I was holding them back in the senate, were already speeding down across my face now. I tightened my grip on the sands and let the waves wash them pains away.
    I was lost in my own world, until I heard some footsteps in behind of me that startled me out of my reverie. Being someone who was raised and trained for being a commander from the very birth, I had sense for feeling danger. Maybe if an ordinary citizen was in my place, wouldn’t have heard that voice, or ignored it until it was too late.
    Quickly, I reached for my kopis, and returned so fast and blocked the dagger and the hand that were going to cut my throat from behind. I cut the throat of the attacker in a quick inward lash. He fell on the ground before me, with his blood rushing out his neck. I hurried to my shield, and there came half a dozen more, and I kept fighting and fighting…
    I must have been fighting for minutes now, and yet, none of these men were able to put me down, but there were still three more of them. I keet blocking and attacking, I’ve taken several wounds and bleeding. Wet, of water and my blood, I kept fighting the attackers off. In the process, one of the attacker’s swords cut my right arm, my kopis fell of my hand and I kept blocking their attacks with the shield in my left hand. As quickly as my weakened body allowed, I dropped the shield and picked the kopis with my left hand, and as soon as I reached the weapon, I managed to block an attack with it, but then when I went for striking back, my right foot was stricken so hard that I fell to the ground and my head hit the edge of the shield I just dropped. It must have been a pretty bad hit, because I could hardy see anymore. My sword was kicked out of my hand. I blinked twice… Every part of my body was stinging. Me head was swirling and my eyes hardly were able to see the face above me. He sat beside me, with his right knee on my chest, and put his blade on my throat, and with his other hand he gripped my hair. He said gasping:
    -“Look at here” His eyes raced around the ground I was laying on “You’re damn bloody good… You killed three of my mates you bastard” He tightened his grip on my air. “You were bloody good… Such a waste!”
    He let out a sound of pain, and I realized he must’ve been seriously wounded too.
    Shaking and gasping for air, he continued:
    -“And uh, by the way, Valerius Flaccus told me to relay this message to you, ‘tell your father that I said hello!’”
    I spit the blood in my mouth to his face and closed my eyes as each inch of his blade moving in my throat took a pinch of my life away.

    Petolanium: It's fictitious, sorry if its name sounds strange ;-)


    Entrant 2 - Major Darling
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    He had come so far,

    "Imperator, welcome to the Senate."

    He remembered the slaughter at St. Albans, the spinning wheels of the Britons,

    "Your senate, sir."

    The blood he had felt through his 30 years in his days as a soldier,

    "You may call and dismiss it at your whim,

    And then a senator, making bills on drains and such

    "The first order of business is the Army,"

    Then slowly up the ranks he rose, a pleb!

    "Then the budget"

    And now he was Imperator of all of Rome, the Empire that stretched to Asia.. He spoke for the first time,

    "I know the army, we do not need to discuss.. War."

    Soldiers like him hated these stylus pushing togaed men, he was a warrior,

    "Senators of Rome, sit, please..."

    These men were not Roman, he was a true Roman,

    "From now on there shall be no senate, I am the ruler and the general of this state.."

    Outbursts rained at him like the hail on the Danube

    "Silence or you shall be fed to the lions!"


    Quiet hushed the halls of the Senate,

    "Now gentlemen, let us deal with Carthage.."

    He was Imperator and Juno's foretelling in the Aeneid must come true..

    "I am Felix, Imperator of Rome... All of the World shall fear my name."



    Entrant 3 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    My name is Optimistius Foolius, and I'm a wealthy landholder in the City of Rome.
    My father, Homosexius Menius used to be a Gladiator, but after impressing some homosexual nobles, he was able to buy his freedom and his way to their bedchamber. My mother is a strong woman, and I forgot her name, but I remember my father wishing to change it to something "normal" like Lesbionius Actionus, however, being strong willed, she declined and made my father cry, which is a common sight.

    Unfortunately, I have a brother who has inherited my father's genes. His name is Analstius Dikius, and basically leeches off my welfare. I'm tolerant enough, but I feel like naming him a Slave and having him work with the women, that would kill him on the inside.
    I enjoy Gladiator matches, not only because of my father's strange legacy, but also my personal enjoyment of blood and gore.

    However, today, I have been forced to bring not only my father, but my idiotic retarded demented strange pedophiliac necrophiliac stupid ugly messed up brother.
    I am in the stand, on the first row and closest to the action as possible.
    My brother and father sit next to me with spyglasses, eyes wide and shirts ready to be torn open.
    Two gladiators, both dressed in loincloth, tramped out onto the dust.
    My father and brother howled in glee.
    I couldn't take it anymore.
    I drew forth my sword and horribly murdered them both.
    Ze end/

    Entrant 4 - Tim1988
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Senate. A place full of overfed, overpaid and under worked fools who like to think that they are important. They can talk all day about issues, but nothing gets done. For all their fine speeches and elegant attire, they are really just a bunch of idiots who love the sound of their own voices. Whilst many good Romans citizens struggle and toil just to survive, and masses of people starve in the city and across the country side, these men sit around in their villas, steeped in luxury as their slaves bring them foods from all across the Empire to feed their opulence.

    No, these are not real men. Real men are soldiers. The pride of the Empire. We spread our culture across continents, subduing Barbarians and creating trade and commerce. It is us that deserves the lives that these fools live. What have they ever done for the Empire? They are not really in charge. We hold the true power. What the legions says, goes. Right back to the times of Caesar this has been the case. Ever since the legions set foot South of the Rubicon, we have held the true power in the Empire. We have overthrown Emperors in the past, and will do so again should the need arise.

    For soldiers are the true power of ROME.



    TotW 85a – Smoke on the Water
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No Picture.
    Winner - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I once met a sailor
    Who had no name.
    When I asked from where he hailed
    No answer came.

    So I asked again
    In a louder tone.
    From where do you hail
    And he said 'Where the wind has blown'

    Where did the wind blow?
    He said in the sails.
    When did it stop?
    At the end of my trails.

    When did they end?
    When the sun went away.
    It ceased to shine?
    As I entered the bay.

    Later he left
    Back out to sea
    He never returned
    Lost in debris

    If I saw him now
    I'd ask him just this:
    Does the wind now blow?
    Does the sun now shine?
    Deep beneath the ocean's brine?

    Yes if I could
    I'd ask him this too
    You have your sails
    You've left the bay
    Do enjoy the endless day?

    Entrant 1 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    My wet hands dug into the muddy dirt as I defied gravity one last time.
    I pulled myself up with failing strength and in a final heave, rolled upon the muddy ground near the banks of the river.
    I lay there for a second, breathing heavily as I quickly recounted what had happened in my mind. I had leapt into the water, and the bridge had shattered. I remember swimming away, desperately hoping the rotting arrows those Dreglings fired would miss me. I finally reached a sandy cove and began a climb up the cliff into a small sally gate that led into the castle, which I had played near as a boy.
    "Oi! We got a live one, Maldis!" said a eager voice, snapping me out of my reverie.
    I weakly lifted my head and turned to face the direction of the noise. Six men, dressed in the uniform of Boletarian Soldiers, approached me, one running.
    The fastest one knelt down next to me and noticed I was awake and watching. I sat up, my stomach groaning in process. "Easy now..." said the man.
    "Must be a survivor from the bridge", suggested another.
    "The bridge..." I stuttered, barely keeping awake.
    "Nothing left of it, man", said the one kneeling down, "we've had bodies, man and demon alike, being washed ashore the entire length of the moat". He looked me in the eyes. "I can tell you now that your a lucky one, few survived that disaster".
    "Help him up", said a stern sounding man, and I turned to face what appeared to be a Captain of the Palace Guard, a red plume above his helmet and a symbol of a crown on his tabard. "We need every man alive to help defend this living hell". The soldiers near me obliged and grabbed me by the arms and pulled me to my feet.
    After a few seconds of standing straight, my vision seemed to clear and I could feel myself coming to my full senses.
    "No time to stand about", said the Captain, "there is an order from Biorr of the Twin Fangs that room to room fighting commences until we reach the Guard Bridge on the other side of the complex".
    The Captain ordered his men to follow him, as he began to quickly stride to a door in the wall. I considered my options and decided to follow. My Captain and Unit was probably obliterated on the bridge and practically, didn't exist anymore. I caught up the Captain as he entered the doorway and mounted a flight of stone steps.
    "What's happened?" I asked, before realising the stupidity of the question.
    "A lot", replied the man.
    "Since the bridge?" I asked more specifically.
    "The bridge collapsed, however, the horde of Dreglings is repairing the bridge and little by little, more are flooding over into the complex". We reached the top of the flight, and turned left into a long corridor lit by many torches. A number of soldiers leaned against the walls, sharpening weapons or praying to their Gods. Although this area was safe at the moment, within the next few days, the fighting would reach here.
    "Our men", continued the Captain, "have been shooting at the Dreglings for hours now, and our men down below can hold the corridors with ease. However, those cursed Knights and their entourage will soon cross and our soldiers will have to fall back". We passed out of the corridor and onto a large wall, littered with trebuchets, boulders, rocks and frantic soldiers, loading anything they could find into the large buckets. Man stood at the crenels, firing down onto the Dreglings and demonic creatures that attempted to repair the bridge. I stepped away from the Captain and peered over the crenels.
    I could see more and more Dreglings rushing forward, carrying planks of wood and demonicly fashioned stonework, able to repair the broken bridge. An archer next to me fired his arrow, and I could see a Dregling drop to the ground with an arrow in his neck, and drop his bundle of stones. Around him a number of Dreglings began to drop the ground, also dead, as more and more archers loosed their death upon the enemy. What caught my eye the most was an increasing mound of dead Dreglings near the edge of the bridge.
    "We're gonna bridge the river with their dead soon", I said.
    "There's definately enough of them", said the man next to me, who loosed another ammo. I stayed just in time to watch another Dregling get hit near the edge of bridge and plummet down into the river.
    I turned around and stepped back over to the Captain.
    "What's is our charge Captain?" I asked, anxiously.
    "We enter the Great Hall and then the Guard Bridge. We basically cover our retreating and soldiers and we'll most likely have to fight off Dragons".
    Suddenly a shout from nearby caused me to nearly leap from my boots.
    "Sir, they used magic to repair the bridge, the Dreglings are pouring over in the hundreds!"
    I started to step towards the crenels again but the Captain grabbed me by the arm. "We have to hurry...now!"


    Entrant 2 - Blackwolf
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    "Admiral Quintus!", yes Lieutenant? I just caught site of an enemy vessel approaching us! Show me where you see these vessels lieutenant. "Yes sir!" As Admiral Quintus & the Lieutenant get to the bow of the Roman Bireme they search for the enemy vessel. "Lieutenant!, I hope you haven't fooled your admiral..." "wha... but... Sir, I swear on my family's life I only speak the truth!" "Don't screw me around next time Lieutenant. I don't have time for games. I am trying to navigate us through this thick fog." "But sir!" "That's an order Lieutenant!, now back to your station!" "Yes sir..." "Good, I expected better from you." The Lieutenant goes back to his station, aware of his surroundings. He was scared. His naval vessel was out in the middle of the Mediterranean surrounded by a very thick fog. He knows he saw enemy naval vessels. But because of the thick fog, it was very difficult to spot them. He thought to himself... What if we were to be intercepted by this enemy vessel? I can't die... I have a loving wife & kid waiting at home for my return. I can't leave them. I'm not going to let my Admiral let us all die. I must do something. I'm sure there are many others that have families waiting for their return as well. If I am correct, I can save our vessel & bring us back home to our families. However, if I am wrong, I will surely be executed if not thrown overboard & fed to the sharks... But I know what I saw. I am no fool. It must be done...
    "Admiral!" "What is it now Lieutenant?!, I am getting very aggravated with you." "Sir, I saw a dead Roman body floating in the the waters near the stern of the boat." "Alright Lieutenant, but I swear if you are screwing me over I will personally demote you to a damn swabie in front of the entire crew!" The Lieutenant clears his throat. "Yes sir. Follow me." The walk over to the stern of the naval bireme. "Okay Lieutenant, where is it? Right over on the side of the boat. You have to look over the edge to see it." As the Admiral looks over the edge of the boat, the Lieutenant slowly approaches his Admiral while pulling out a small dagger. He walks over to his Admiral & says, "Here, let me give you a better view." He quickly stabs him in the side of his body to make it harder for him to swim & pushes him overboard thus letting his Admiral sink to the bottom of the Mediterranean...
    CRASH!!! The enemy have intercepted & punctured a whole in the Roman naval bireme. "No! I waited to long! God help us..." The bireme started to sink as the enemy boarded the ship. It was a bloody massacre... And to his surprise, it was not the enemy who had attacked, it was another Roman ship! The Lieutenant's ship surrendered. As the ship was still sinking, the enemy Romans grabbed the Lieutenant & asked him. "Anything you would like to say before you are slain?" "Yes... Tell, my wife & kid I love them as I will always..." But little did he know, his wife & child were both murdered & hung as their house was burnt. "We shall see." "Why would you do something like this to you own peaahhhh?!!!" But before he could finish, his head was already rolling down the bireme into the water... And as for the rest of the crew that lived, they were left on the sinking bireme to die... No Roman citizen ever knew this tragic event happened...

    Entrant 3 - Ratzor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    An eerie glow surroundered the crew above the Saint Helena. Unearthly in appearance it quietly embalmed the ship in cold mist. The crew stared out into the mystic fog, as to reveal its secret through sheer will alone. Suddenly a hollow scream aired out amongst the thick fog, chilling the crewmembers to the very bone and more than one crossed their fingers, as too shield them from evil. The captain, a man called John Dover, stood sharp behind the wheel, reprimanding his crew for their foolish superstition. Skillfully he navigated amongst rocky cliffs and whirlpools as they appeared around the bow. The occasional shipwreck soon appeared and painted the cliffsides in irregular patterns, some looked ancient while others carried names he could have sworn belonged to the royal navy. He could not help but to feel a chill along his own spine.

    Suddenly one of the crewmembers screamed. Shaking uncontrollably he pointed towards an object stranded along the portside. As more crewmembers rushed to see what it was it quietly slipped away into the fog, revealing nothing but the silluette of what looked like a man. "Get back to your positions!" The captain shouted at the crew, now beginning to regret his descision to pursue the Rebels into the fog. "I'll want those sails hauled! It's getting narrow ahead!". The crewmember who saw the object was carried away by his friends, who tried to ask him questions. But he was unable to stutter forth more than individual syllables. Some crewmembers crossed their fingers to protect themselves from evil. This time the captain made no effort to quench their fears.

    As they were enclosed by the more narrow passageway they had to push themselves forward using long rods. It felt as though they were trapped, the cliff walls standing but a few metres from both the port and starboard. Most concentrated on the push forward. The mood among the crew shifted silently to the worse. Panic and claustrofobia began to ventilate itself. Some in the crew breathed in rapid succesion, as if every minute they could run out of air. A cracking noise above the ship turned more than one head in its direction, only to have the same faces being peppered by small rubble. They could hear ghostly shrieks appearing behind them and as their panic increased so did the speed in which the crewmembers pushed the ship forward. The crew was soon pushed into a sort of crazed state and more than a few let out a scream as they could glimpse something in the corner of the eye or distinguish a shape among the hazy mist. The captain himself cold feel the ethereal claws grabbing his soul, his life seemed dependent on powers he couldn't fathom.

    Suddenly the crewmember who had seen the first appirition threw himself back, pausing in midair only to have his body rattled in convulsions and his eyes turned towards the back of his head. All around him men stopped pushing, watching as he was slowly bent towards himself and bones crushed with snapping sounds. For a full minute this continued until finally his body snapped in half, the crew taking a distance and in disgust and fear tried to shield themselves from the blood gushing forth from the torso and thighs. No one took his place when they continued their journey, all focused on the man in front, as to not stare out into the mystical mist. Ghostly sounds still haunting their sanity from all directions, a chill in their bones that left no hope.

    But suddenly they were clear. Not a cliff to be seen in any direction. Amazed, the crew stared confusingly at each other. Then at the captain, who also was speechless. The sounds and visions stopped as well, but the mist remained. A cheer went up from the crew, as they realized just what had happened. Smiling, laughing and dunking each other in the back, they noticed a difference in the water. It was no longer blue, but red, and just ahead of them a shipwreck appeared. It was the Saint Helena, bodies snapped all around and blood gushing forth from the torsos and thighs. And so their journey started again.




    TotW 86a – The English Bodkin Arrow
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner -
    Tim1988
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Thomas of York. Bastard son of an English noble. Stable-hand and whipping boy to the rich. Today he was King.

    "Our father who art in heaven".
    Thomas muttered the prayer under his breath as his first arrow arced into the air, feathers catching in the light breeze.

    "Hallowed be thy name"
    Before the first arrow had even hit home a second was on his string. Drawing the cord back past his ear, with a strength borne through years of training, Thomas loosed again towards the advancing French army.

    "Thy Kingdom come"
    The first volley of arrows crashed home. The French line visibly shuddered and the air was wrought with the metallic clang of metal on metal. At this range, even the deadly bodkin arrows fired by the English bowmen struggled to pierce the thick armour of the French Knights. However, the force of the impacts forced many to their knees, where they floundered helplessly in the deep mud, weighed down by their heavy armour. Some arrows found weak points, and cut deep into flesh, and the clang of the arrows on armour was soon joined by the first screams of pain.

    "Thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven"
    The sky was now dark with arrows, a constant rain of them falling into the might of the French nobility. More and more of them were falling to the heavy points. As the range shortened, only the finest of armour could now stop the deadly arrows from piercing through.

    "Give us this day our daily bread"
    The French were now close enough make out as individuals, to see the crests on their armour and shields. Thomas was able to pick his targets carefully now. He loosed an arrow at a Frenchman dressed gaudily in a bright red surcoat decorated with a blue eagle, and watched with satisfaction as the arrow smashed home into his chest, lifting the man clean off his feet before he crashed heavily into the man behind him. Before the second soldier had a time to regain his balance, he too was sent crashing to the ground, an arrow protruding from the visor of his helmet.

    "And forgive us our trespasses"
    The French were close now. So close you could almost smell them. A smell of stale sweat, worked up as the men struggled across a muddy field, weighed down by heavy armour, shoulders hunched forwards as if it would offer some protection against the metal rain that was unleashed upon them. Thomas loosed his final arrow, taking a French knight by the throat, sending a shower of blood spraying through the air as he fell. He clutched uselessly at his neck as he drowned in his own blood. Picking up his pole-axe, Thomas and his fellow archers prepared to receive the French charge.

    "As we forgive those who trespass against us"
    The first French knights reached the line of stakes, too exhausted to do anything. They swung helplessly at the nimble archers with their swords and maces, but, tired and weary, their swings were easily evaded by all but the slowest. Groups of archers swarmed over the French nobles, smashing armour and bone alike with swings from their poleaxes, or ripping off visors and plunging long knives through the eyes of the knights and into their brains. Some of the french tried to surrender, throwing their gauntlets to the ground. Few were spared, such was the bloodlust of the English peasants. All of their lives, these men had served their Lords. Many had been beaten, their wives and daughters raped by those that "owned" them. But today, they were able to take their revenge on the rich. Years of anger poured out in a display of violence that many didn't think possible.

    "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one"
    Thomas stabbed the point of his poleaxe forwards towards the face of a French knight. He was just about able to evade the jab, but in doing so stumbled backwards. He tripped, arms flailing, and sword falling from his hand as he attempted to maintain his balance. Thomas leaped forwards, knife drawn ready to finish him off. Ripping off the man's visor he was about to plunge the knife in when he noticed the jewels encrusting the fine armour. "Mercy. Mercy. Please", screamed the knight in broken English. Thomas smiled. This one was rich. He should fetch a good ransom.

    "For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever, amen"
    Tying the man's hands behind his back with a spare bowcord, Thomas led him to the back of the English lines. The French were fleeing now, morale broken, leaving hundreds of bodies on the ground in their wake. The nobility of France had been defeated by the peasants of England. With a longbow in their hands, these men were masters of the battlefield. None could stand against them. English casualties were negligible. Here and there, a soldier or two crawled to the rear of the lines, clutching a bloodied leg, or arm. But on the whole, the British lines were as they started the battle. This day would surely go down in history. The day when all the money in the world could not buy the French nobles a victory against the skill of the British longbowmen, in a small field next to a town called Azincourt.

    Entrant 1 - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Who could have thought the French would put us in the run eh?” Said the fellow to my right.

    “Aye.” Said the archer to my left. “But this is where we show them how we English fight!”

    “Keep firing boys!” Yelled the King. “For England! Don’t stop firing!” He said to us as he rode left with his cavalry.

    “That´s King Henry for you.” Said the fellow behind me as we prepared another volley.

    Beneath us the ground trembled.

    The French Knights were coming.

    Hordes and hordes of sterling plate armor, they looked like a shiny metallic sea that was about to crash upon us.

    We kept firing even though they were very close now, we had been marching for days and nights on and we have been firing for hours now, and yet I didn’t felt tired, not an inch tired.

    I looked to the man to my right.

    “Starting to feel that tiring arm eh?” he asked. “Well, if we survive this we´ll have a surgeon take a look at it.” He said with a smirk as he returned to his firing sequence.

    “How did we got here?” I asked in a low whisper. I had no recollection of the journey, I only remembered that dreadful siege in Paris, and then we had been forced to retreat…. And we marched….and now we were firing for hours now. “I don’t remember what road we took.”

    “Just keep firing lad!” Said the man to my left, or was it the one to my right? We all looked the same under the heavy rain that had been pouring on since… since the battle begun.

    Our swordsmen in front had been struggling to keep the French infantry away from us and the knights were in the distance riding toward us, something was not right, they were moving and yet they didn’t seemed to be getting any closer to us, the ground was still trembling beneath us, or was it just me?

    The King rode behind us again yelling at us to keep firing till the last arrow, how exactly many arrows did we had, surely we had already spent them all? And yet I always had an arrow ready and I kept firing with my mates, but how was I not tired?

    I looked around, a sign post could be seen in the distance: Agincourt it read. We were at the site of that famous battle! When the English completely destroyed the French army due to the use of their famed long bowmen archers!

    The ground shook, like it was an earth tremor, but I was the only one to lost balance. The rest of the archers continued to fire at the enemy.

    Something was not right…

    I turned my back to the enemy to see what was behind me; there was nothing, nothing with a defined form that is, it was just a grey mist.



    “Where to now?” Asked a female voice inside my head.

    “Back, to where I met you, when we were young.” I said with my eyes closed, on that moment I could feel the rain on my face, my arms burning due to the constant firing, my feet aching with the long days of marching.

    When I opened my eyes again I was in the school´s library a lot of years younger, and I was reading, what book? I do not remember, but I remember that you sat in front of me.

    “Is it taken?” you asked.



    “No, it´s free.” I answered before getting back to my reading.

    I remember now, I was reading the Silmarillion for the uptenth time.

    You pointed the book and said: “That book is awesome, it always gets me crying at the end.”

    I smiled; you were the first woman that I had met that knew about the Silmarillion.

    “Its good.” I said. “It also gets me in an emotional mood whenever I read the Lay of Luthien.”

    You took a laptop out of your bag.

    “Yeah,.” You said. “You are Victor right? The Anatomy´s Instructor?”

    “I am.” I said while you clicked On your computer and I changed page. “Did you took classes with me?”

    “No, I´m new.” You answered. “I have heard you are the best one to take classes with though.”

    “Well…” I said with a failed attempt at modesty. “What´s your name?”

    “Dalia.” You said as you smiled, I heard you clicking on your laptop and then I heard a most familiar music while I read the part where Finrod fought against Sauron in Tol Sirion.

    “Wait…” I said as I put the book down. “Are you playing Medieval Total War 2?” I asked with disbelief.

    “Yep.” You nodded with your head as I went around the table to see if it was real, the first girl I ever knew that played Total War.

    “I see you´ve done most of the Historical Battles.” I said, impressed.

    “I only miss this one.” You said, kinda frustrated. “The Battle of Agincourt. Can you help me win it?”

    “Certainly!” I said.



    I saw our first conversation from afar and you appeared next to me in my dream.

    “We were so young.” You said.

    “Come on, we still are.” I said turning towards you. “Dalia, you forever will be young to me.”

    “Here we can be young always.” You said, coming close to me.

    “Always, as you are by my side.” I said.

    We kissed in our memory, in our dream.

    We woke up, the reality wasn´t far off from the dream.

    Entrant 2 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I exited the dark room, following my Captain and his Squad.
    "Watch out!" screamed a voice and I quickly raised my shield as if expected something. Suddenly, only ten metres before me, I large boulder crashed through a wooden platform and into the stairways below, injuring or killing many making their way up to the frontline.
    "Down them steps!" cried the Captain, "we hold them there!"
    I rushed forward, flanked by dozens of desperate Boletarian Soldiers. I leapt down the stairs, holding my shield, ready for a surprise attack. None came.
    Instead I was confronted by a horde of charging Dreglings, weapons or fists raised high, ready to intercept us. The newly repaired bridge was less than one hundred metres away. We were the frontline.
    Suddenly the Dreglings were upon us. No shield wall, no formation, just single combat, too see who could prevail. One charged at me, and I cleanly beheaded it as it closed the distance.
    Another took it's place, and then another, and then more. I slashed out with my sword and felt the blade pass through two Dreglings, before bringing it around to the left to severely wound another. A number of Dreglings closed in on my right side as I left myself unprotected, but I quickly used my shield as a bashing weapon to knock aside a few of them. I suddenly realised I was outflanked and I would soon die, whether it be from the front, the side or behind.
    I slashed again, back to the right, with my sword and felt it pass through another two Dreglings. I then quickly twisted my wrist and caught one of them on the point of my sword.
    Suddenly half a dozen Boletarian Soldiers leapt past me, driving the surprised Dreglings back. I quickly kicked the dying Dregling off my blade and eased his passing by driving it into its throat.
    I stepped forward, ready to support my saviours, when a hand grabbed my soldier and held me back. I turned and found the Captain looking at me with serious eyes. "Good job there", he said, "but we have other orders. Biorr has called us back to the Complex hall. The enemy are tunneling under the Palace".
    He led my through a mass of our own soldiers, who were steadily pushing the Dreglings back. "Where did all these men come from?" I asked.
    "Levied servants, only half of them are soldiers", replied the Captain. It suddenly struck me on how desperate we were. If were levying servants, citizens, elderly and young, then we must be fearing annihilation. I remembered a few years back, when I was a simple guard, lining up on parade as hundreds of thousands heavily armoured Knights marched away to fight the Demons. I remember when the wounded and the survivors returned, many wounded. The Demons could not be contained and the Deep Fog was spreading. Millions of Knights and soldiers, proud men, had died, and countless Demons, but their number never seemed to end.
    I remember when news came that our distant cities had been sacked, refugees fled through our gates as I watched from our walls. Still, thousands of soldiers marched away to halt the advance, but only a few ever returned.
    I remembered standing on the walls of the Boletarian City, watching as an army of Demons marched relentlessly forward. One million men mustered for the defence, but the Demons swarmed over us like water on a rock. I stumbling through the streets as countless Demons poured in, slaughtering the poor souls that tried to flee. And now I was here, the last bastion of humanity in this once mighty nation.
    "Soldier", echoed a voice and suddenly I was back in reality, watching as the Captain called my name. "soldier, get over there by the wall and wait".
    I hesitated for the moment, and then obeyed as I realised the situation. The Complex Hall was a large hall, covered in black marble with stone pillars reaching up to the glittering ceiling. Such a beautiful place, that was about to be attacked for the first time in history.
    I felt tired and stepped forward to the wall, where I carelessly leant down.
    "Oi", said a soldier, "unless you want the wall to collaspe even quicker, I'd get off it". I realised he was talking to me, so I stood up straight and walked over to one of the stone pillars. "They're digging", said another soldier. "I can hear the pickaxes".
    I paid little attention the faint noise and laid against the pillar. The gate to the Complex Hall had been closed and I had barely noticed, although it was of little concern to me. The sounds of battle seemed to be faint, and seemed to be replaced by more of a buzzing noise.
    "Ah...guys", said a lone man who stood near the closed gate. "I'm new to being a soldier but I don't remember hearing much screaming before?" I frowned and started to walk towards the gate, slowly at first, and then picking up my pace as the screaming grew louder.
    A nearby soldier, bearing several scars of being a veteran stepped forward, squinting as he looked through the small holes in the gate. "We have no "scream" battle cries", he said thoughtfully. "Wait...oh !"
    I heard a shrill cry from outside and suddenly the whole room was tinted red for a second. "Open the gate", cried the Captain as he and several other Officers present started towards the gate, where about fifty of us were now standing around. The gate started to open slowly, then suddenly...I nearly fainted as I saw the horrific sight.
    Mounds of burnt bodies lay on top of each other and several fires burnt behind the gate. Several men were screaming in terror as they burnt to death from the fire that engulfed them. A few other men stepped around aimlessly, coughing from the smoke that now filled the air.
    I stepped out into the blaze and grabbed the nearest man by the arm, whom I led back into Hall, several other men followed my example. After a few minutes, one man ran back into the Hall, another limping man in tow. "Sir", he cried, "we have to shut the gate! Dreglings! Thousands of them!"
    "Shut the damn gate!" shouted the Captain and from the gatehouse above, it began to shut. "Can someone tell me what happened here?"
    One man, who had been sitting on the ground after being led in, stood wearily and faced the Captain. "Dragons...everyone is dead, the Dreglings...they come..." he dropped to his knees for a second, coughing uncontrollably. Two men ran over and helped him to his feet. He began again, his voice hoarse.
    "The Dragons...they are guarding the Lord's Highway", invoking another name for the Gúard's Bridge, "we are trapped here...we are all going to..." He fell to the ground.
    I knew the last word he was going to say...


    Entrant 3 -
    Julius Barca the Great
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Colin dreaded the coming battle. He knew the royal French army was unstoppable. He knew that this war was more an inconvenience than a threat to the kingdom. But he also knew that the English were employing a type of soldier that could kill a knight without a thought. Until now, a man of Colin's rank could walk into battle, confident that biggest risk was losing the income of a few years. Now, however, death looked him in the face in the form of a narrow piece of steel on the end of a stick.
    Still, disgrace upon his family simply would not do. So, with the terribly cold feeling of an imminent death in the pit of his stomach, he donned his armor. As he put on his helmet, the tapestry in his tent caught his eye. A fierce struggle was depicted in the foreground, with knights, both infantry and cavalry, bludgeoning each other in a close melee, using large shields as well as swords to beat their opponents into submission. Oh, how Colin wished for a shield! He felt certain the solidity of an extra plate of steel could save him from the Wrath of the Bow. Instead, he followed the ideas of today's military logic, which dictated the rejection of such encumbrances in favor of thick armor and a good poleaxe.
    Colin stepped out into the beautiful French sunlight, and he knew today would bring victory to the king. The English dogs would scurry away, tails tucked between their legs. But many good knights would fall, and in return, the men of Norman ancestry would cast aside the lives of a few peasants and men-at-arms. It hardly seemed a fair way to do battle. Surely God, through the Pope, would punish the brutes?
    Men on horseback trotted past Colin, faces grim. They would lead the charge, and would be among the first to die. It was truly a despairing sight to see the gentry and nobility of France humbled in such a way.Why did the men-at-arms not lead the charge, and absorb the arrows of the English? They, at least, held large wooden shields! But alas, it was considered noble, brave, and honorable to lead a charge. The task was, as such, delegated to the knightly order.
    The battle lines were set, the men steady. Across the muddy field, the few English knights stood, flanked on either side by the devil himself. By
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Longbowmen
    .
    The knights on horseback seemed confused. Several could be heard muttering prayers, a few even cursing the very God their brothers blessed. Colin did neither; he simply waited. Soon, the horsemen gathered up their collective nerve and charged. It was pathetic, gruesome, and terrible. The horses could barely manage a slow walk in the mud, some even tripping or simply refusing to move at all. Men cursed, flailed, and sat dumbly.
    Then the arrows started to fall. Every man heard the dreaded snap, the quick hiss, and the endless sounds of steel striking steel, of flesh being ripped apart, and of men, grown men, screeching in agony. This continued on for several volleys. By the time the knights were twenty yard from the bowmen, half had fallen. With one last burst of speed, the horses lunged into the English line. Lunged directly into the waiting arms of wooden stakes. Horses and men alike were impaled, while the peasants of Britain rushed in with mallets, knives, and poleaxes to deliver killing blows. And the whole time, the archers
    laughed
    . They were amused by the ease with which the dominated the battlefield. It sickened Colin. He walked forward, fears cast aside in the face of disgust. The other knights were close behind him. Soon, a charge had developed. Nothing could stop this inexorable wall of steel, Colin felt. Not arrows, not mud, not Englishmen with axes.
    Three hours later, it was all over. Colin sat with his arms bound, along with every living Frenchman. Two arrows had struck him, the first a glancing blow, the second with enough force to carry him off his feet. Once down, it had been a simple task for a lowly yeoman to bind his hands and take his axe. It had been humiliating.
    And now, now the world knew that France was weak. The age of the knight had ended on this bloody field near the town of Agincourt. Colin despaired, knowing he would be forced into destitution, because some filthy, groveling peasant had learned to shoot sticks. Pathetic.
    Entrant 4 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    "But papa, why must we leave?"
    Édouard looked down at his daughter, her wide, blue eyes gazing back at him in curiosity. He kneeled down, and putting his hands on her slim, frail shoulders, said, "It's not safe here, ma chaton. We can return when the armies leave, and it will be the same as before. Until then, just do as your mother and I ask and get your things."
    She opened her mouth to respond, but he shushed her and pushed her towards her chest, where she kept what few possessions she had. Édouard turned to his wife, Adèle. She was not a large woman, but she was strong, and had a firm countenance. In her younger years, when she and Èdouard had first met, she had been very pretty, with her sea blue eyes and dark brown hair. Even now, Èdouard only saw her as a young woman when he looked at her. They had only their daughter, Marie, though they had two sons who had died young.
    "Marie, are you ready to go?" he asked her. She looked at him and nodded, her eyes blinking back tears. Èdouard picked her up and said, "Don't be sad, ma chaton, we won't be gone more than a week, I promise. We're just going to stay with your Uncle for a while until things died down, all right?" She nodded again. Now he looked back to his wife and said, "We must go now. I have no desire to be here when the armies meet."
    They then left the small cottage they called home, carrying only some linens and a small doll. After only a mile of walking, they caught a glimpse of the English army. It seemed rather small, and there was a surprising lack of knights or men-at-arms among them. Èdouard took solace in the fact that the French would beat them soon enough, and life would return to normal. Soon, they saw a small detachment of English horsemen riding towards them.
    "Keep your heads down. We don't want to draw attention to ourselves," Èdouard said. He picked up Marie and held her close to his body, hoping to be completely ignored by the detachment. The detachment rode by without notice, and just as he was thinking they were safe, he heard them stop. One of them shouted something in a language he could not understand. English, he assumed. The man said it again, louder this time, and Èdouard quickened his pace. He heard them begin to ride towards him. One of the men rode around in front of them, forcing them to stop. Again, the words were spoken. Did the man think if he said it enough Èdouard might understand? The man dismounted and drew a sword, grinning. He caught their eyes and saw they were looking at Adèle. Suddenly the horrible realization dawned on him, and he had only one thought. He put Marie down and put one arm around her, and the other around his wife.
    He hugged them and whispered, "if you get a chance, run." Adèle only nodded, and grabbed Marie's hand. Èdouard closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. When he opened them, he looked at the men. Surprisingly, they weren't heavily armed, messengers, perhaps? There were four of them he saw now, and two of them remained mounted. The man with the sword held it to Èdouard's throat, and said the words again, louder. Èdoaurd raised his hands, trying to make the man realize he didn't understand. The man looked at him, spat, and turned. Sheathing his sword, he mounted his horse, turned, and galloped away. Èdouard whispered a quite prayer of thanks, and turning to his family, they walked on.

    Entrant 5 - R-teen
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “I’m not comfortable with this.”
    The last guy in the far right wing of the army protested. His comrade-in-arms in his left made a face and grumbled:
    “Not again… What is it this time?”
    “You’re in the picture fully… But they’re only showing my hand.”
    A guy in his right nudged him and said: “Lucky you, the damn cam ain’t covering a single part of my body.”
    The second guy – the guy in the left – who was running out of wits of the fools’ controversy, growled: “Strip your clothes off—”
    “What?!?!” They both shot back simultaneously.
    “Yeah strip’em off! I bet the cams will be all over your arses then.”
    In the meantime, a guy from the far left of the army raised his voice and objected that his situation was worst, since he was in the picture, but wasn’t actually. But what this has to do with my tale? I don’t know… So who cares what he said anyway?
    Back in this side, the archer commander shouted: “FIRE!”
    “Oh damn!” The first guy snapped dropping his bow and start running amok shouting “Somebody call 911! Somebody call 911! “
    His comrade though, was indifferent to his friend’s craze. He let loose the cord of his bow in the command of his officer. A shot went flying forward, only to hit its lucky victim-should-have-been a second later. One of the archers in the row in front of the stakes put up his middle finger to his behind, and without turning back to see from who it was, started shouting something, which to summarize, meant something like ‘Watch your fire!’
    Some meters behind, the shooter, was infuriated and was blushing of the kind words of his victim who was still complimenting his momma. “Why didn’t he die? I wish —” He was thinking. The man in his left said sternly: “FF’s off you newb.”
    “I thought I was thinking —
    “Well you were thinking aloud!” he jumped in.
    “What the hell’s FF anyway?” He though, but it seemed this time it wasn’t loud enough for the other guy to hear. His curiosity tickled him, so he tried his best to think louder: “WHAT THE HELL’S FF?!” But the psychic guy seemed to be whether ignoring him, or he must’ve subconsciously been speaking last time. With a feeling of safety inside his brain, he though: “You bizarre fo—“
    “Who’re you calling a fool?” He turned in a flash and towered over the poor archer.
    He was stupefied and was shivering… The front line archer had just stopped from cautioning him kindly about the aftermath of next time he did that again, and now this guy was about to crush his skull. The poor guy was on the verge of wetting himself as the man in his left was about to beat the hell out of him, until someone from his behind said: “You don’t have to this Edward, don’t forget who you are.” He turned his eyes to the one restricting him, and quickly turned them back to the freaked out guy and said: “Watch your mouth next time.”
    The guy opened his mouth to say something, but he jumped in growled: “Mouth, mind, whatever…”
    He was past the danger, but he already needed new pants.

    In the other side of the field, the sight of the commander on his ironclad horse among his noble guardsmen sent a chill down one’s spine.
    Commander turned to his tactician and asked:
    “Aren’t those our men there? Their flags look a lot like ours”
    “Whom do you mean, sire?”
    “Those four… or maybe more… units in the fore…”
    “Where?”
    “Right there you whore!
    He chuckled. The commander shot a chastising look towards him, so he straightened himself a little and said.
    “Yes sir, they’re our men.”
    “What the… why the hell our archers are firing at them?
    His fellow tactician coughed and a smug smile appeared on his face, and said proudly.
    “I ordered them to. I thought, you know, they could be great practicing targets for them”
    The tactician put a hand on the commander’s shoulder, with his horse close to the commander’s, and relied on the commander’s shoulder. The wide eyes of the commander were getting wider any moment from both disbelief and fury. The tactician, noticing the commander’s reaction, tried to make up to that:
    “You know, to warm up… until the enemy armies arrive...”
    The commander shrank, causing the tactician to fall from his horse. The commander shouted of agony and was about to descend the tip of his lance into the tactician’s chest who was screaming repeatedly “They can’t do any harm… FF’s off.” but the he wasn’t listening. Lucky him, when the commander was about to silence bustling fool, some other shouting in the other part of the army divided his attention and he turned his head to find the source of all these noises. His view was blocked by some of his guardsmen, so he rode a little to back of the army, and there saw a soldier, who was running towards someone who seemed to be the commander of the archers, and was carrying a red capsule in his arms. He reached the archer commander and started pouring some white powder from the strange capsule down on him. Almost all the men who were in the range of this were watching, and all of them were too shocked to do anything about it, and no sound came out any of them.
    After watching for some minutes in silence, the first guy’s capsule ran out of powder, leaving a white statue of a once commander. The man finally looked up to see some thousand pairs of eyes, and some thousand dropped jaw pointed at him. He was panting with both excitement and exhaustion of his magnificent show; he smirked and said with a voice turned ridiculous with his gasping: “It’s extinguished!”
    He repeated that again under his breath, and dropped the empty red capsule and started walking to his position in the archer unit, with thousands of faces turning slightly with his each step. He reached his bow that was still lying in the ground, picked it up and started shooting. In a hundred meters radius around him there was no sound but the sound of his bow cord. Meanwhile, almost as far as eye could work it out, all men were staring at him like they were staring at the newfound 8th wonder of the world.
    He was still shooting arrows until two men – who weren’t hypnotized by him unlike the others – came and placed him under custody. Some other men too, were ordered to extract an archer commander from the pile of white powder. The commander was already done with his tactician too. He started making the rest of the army ready.
    Some hours later… *fast-forwarding*… *still fast-forwarding*… *you’re walking on my nerves… I’ll tell you myself when it’s finished…*
    Alright, I think that’s enough. Let’s keep up in normal speed.
    Everywhere was dark… It was middle of the night. The sweet seductive voice of a woman – the queen? oh my god it’s the queen!!! – was whispering: “Come here honey...” It was one of the rare situations where the king had to obey instead of commanding … Eh... We… I think we have over-fast-forwarded a little… haven’t we? Reverse reverse reverse… *reversing*…
    Okay, good enough. Here we go again.
    It was evening and the king was expecting the results of the battle. It was doleful evening, waiting impatiently for the news of the battle to arrive. Sitting in his room, a tapping in the door interrupted the king. He let his bald lean adviser to come into the room. He asked him if his majesty liked to hear the news of the battle from the commander of the army himself, and the king let the man in.
    The commander, shaken and shaking came forward with a piece of parchment in his hand. He was forging a grin, showing his clattering teeth; he bowed when he reached the king, and presented the report. He quickly asked for the king’s permission to leave. The king though, ordered him to have a sit and help himself. The king opened the parchment, a pleasant simled traced on his face at first, but it was fading little by little, each moment he continued to stare at it. Finally, he raised his head. It was serene, turned red. He set his eyes on the commander, whose chair’s legs were making hell of a sound clattering the floor. The king continued to gaze him, and he continued to shake and gaze the emperor back, and the foolish grin still was on his face.
    The adviser, curious of the reason of the reaction of the king, asked “May I?” gesturing towards the parchment. The king, without turning his eyes off the commander, handed it over to him. His eyes raced continuously between the report and the commander, until his mind managed to fully catch the reason of strange acts of the king and the commander, which couldn’t match the parchment in his hand in strangeness at all.



    TotW 87a – Breaking News Live From the Scene
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Winner - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 





    The Prancing Peacock...



    Today's filler story shall be entitled...."The Prancing Peacock". Once upon a time there were TWC Titans and Princes who walked to and fro strutting their "Stuff". With "Ooooo Lala" and "Look at me", showing their poses amd postures where ever they went so that ALL could see. Don't be so cynical Mega.... Now the plumage would get really colorful when it came time to preform their duties as elected site officials. In the bat of an eye they would throw out a yes or a no without a care in the world as long as it keep them in the limelight and in "tight" with the clique and the popular crowd. A two second answer where in it's place an hour or two's work should stand. Do only a bare minimum and never pour one's soul into anything one does. Plumage is the only thing that matters so that all can see and soak in the well preened splendor of it all.

    Now am I bitter? Hell ya I'm bitter! All that effort without substance disgusts me to no end.... Look I've always been a plantation slave {field worker} and that's all I'm ever gonna be. At least though, my personality with always be thicker than a sheet of paper. Yeppers..., one of my true great loves, "The Dark Princess" gave me everything she had, but in truth was thin as a sheet of paper. God Bless her. She's a model, go figure...

    Okay then.... What's this little rant about anyway? Long story short, always be who you are and be happy with that. I'll admit that I might not be much to look at but substance for me is always what's gonna count. "Still water runs deep". That phrase is probably the nicest compliment the I've ever received. I took me a while to figure it out, but when I did I looked like dis...


    Entrant 1 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    John Stalvern waited.
    The lights blinked and flickded out of the air.
    There were D3M0NzZ in the base, and Joson had not listended to his warnings. But it was far too late for now, anyway.
    John Stalvern had been a space marine for 14 years. When he was a little boy, he had watcheded as the spaceships flu across the sky and he had said, "Daddy! I want to be on those ships!"
    But dad had always replied, "NO YOU WILL BE KILL BY D3M0NzZ". This puzzled John in a few ways, the most significant being that it simply did not make sense and would later lead to John's intellectual downfall. In relation to the D3M0NzZ, John did not believe him.
    But as he got olderded, he knew there were D3M0NzZ.
    "John", said Joson through the nearby radio, "you must kill the D3M0NzZ!"
    John gotted his palsma rifle and blew up the wall revealing a bunch of homosexual D3M0NzZ with little or no apparent physical description. John would never describe them, as the use of big words would often leave him in tears.
    "HE GOING TO KILL US!" said the D3M0NzZ.
    "I will shoot at him", said the Cyberdemon and he fired the rocket-missiles.
    John palsamaed at him but then the ceiling fell and they were not able to kill.
    "NO!" screamed John, "I MUST KILL THE D3M0NzZ!"
    "No, John", said Joson, "you are the D3M0NzZ".
    Then John was a Z0MB1E.

    Entrant 2 - Julius Barca the Great
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Bishop Philip smiled contentedly. He had devised a foolproof plan that was now blooming into the beautiful flower of success.
    Over the last few years, the men of Riga had become more and more distanced form the church. They had kept their vows and confessed on occasion, though, so they had been left alone. Last month, however, they had crossed the line. On the reverse of the ledger sheet required of every town, a crude drawing of Philip and an old dog had been sketched, leaving little to the imagination.
    "I'll show these faithless dogs to make a fool of me," he had muttered. His orders went out at once. Every able-bodied, strong Christian man in Europe was to join Philip on a Crusade against Riga. He had armed them each with a wooden cross and had them wear the habit of a monk or the gown of a priest. He had created a Holy Army, untouchable by the blades of sinners, unaffected by the words of heretics. Should any man stand in their way, he would be prayed into submission, threatened with Hell's Fire, and forcibly conscripted. It was beautiful, really.
    Today, Philip and his "army" reaches Riga. As far as the eye could see, Monks, priests, and the odd choir boy milled about the city. There was no drinking, no women, and no gambling. It was the perfect army. Or so he thought.
    Riga sent out several waves of emissaries, each being told away with a stern warning that their lives were sins against God. The leaders of Riga took the hint and sulkily awaited their fate.
    Philip's first, and only, major obstacle arose when the Pope issued an edict, declaring that to besiege a Christian city was a sin. Philip tried to argue that Riga was faithless, but his plea fell on deaf ears. The Pope had political ties with Riga, and politics trump justice every day of the week.
    Regardless, the Bishop persisted, calling to his men that the Pope was temporarily blinded, that as their Bishop, he knew best. Again, the men that mattered chose to ignore his obviously sound logic, and fled. Soon, Philip was left with naught but a handful of monks who were too old to run back to their homes. It was pathetic.
    A lone man decided to end this stupidity. He sneaked out of his bed in Riga and past the sleeping clergy. He knew he was committing a grave sin, but he cared not. His children and wife were suffering in the siege. He rested easy that night, with the knowledge that Bishop Philip would never again trouble the town of Riga again.

    Entrant 3 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    "You're such a butt bandit."
    "I take offense to that notion."
    "It's true though."
    "Whether or not it's true does not lessen the offensivity of it. I hate gingers, but I don't go around insulting every ginger I come across, because that would be offensive."
    "Offensivity isn't a word. And you do insult every ginger you come across."
    "Well not to their faces."
    "So you'd prefer it if I called you a butt bandit behind your back?”
    “Yes, quite.”
    “So what you're saying is, I can call you a butt bandit to your ass?”
    “That wasn't a very well thought out insult.”
    “Yeah. I've done better.”

    Such was the course of a usual conversation between Aonghus and Friedhold. Friedhold liked to consider himself an intellectual, an elite sort of person who's thoughts were beyond the comprehension of most other people. Aonghus was no less intelligent than Friedhold, he just preferred to devote his time to creating an alphabet of insults using alliteration. Butt Bandit was his newest invention. Aonghus and Friedhold were two sides of the same coin, however, and as such they found themselves together more often than not. Then there was the man who called himself G. If Aonghus and Friedhold were two sides of the same coin, G was the edge of the coin. Neither Aonghus nor Friedhold knew G's name. Aonghus insisted it stood for Gareth, Friedhold was convinced it was Gaston. G was the quiet one, taking more time to think and look mysterious in hopes of getting laid than talking. All three of them had one thing in common, however. They were all imaginary. Really, any argument they had was a figment of the imagination of Aonghus G. Friedhold. Aonghus G. Friedhold being the author of this piece, of course.

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    This comes up in images if you search Aonghus G. Friedhold. Have fun.


    On this particular day, however, Aonghus was debating with Friedhold on the possibility of winning a particular competition. Aonghus thought that they had no chance whatsoever, and Friedhold thought they had a small chance in hell.
    “Seriously, these people love stories about action and adventure. This entire story has been about us and G. There is no way we can win,” Aonghus said.
    “Well, we might if we can manage to say one hilarious thing. I mean, if we can be funny enough, we might be able to make them like us,” Friedhold replied.
    “But we're not being funny. Butt Bandit is mildly amusing, but it's not funny. We might have had something with the gingers, but we moved on to quickly, and then I ruined it with the 'butt bandit to your ass' thing.”
    “True. Maybe we should just stop talking, just end the story really abruptly, or get some crazy plot twist?”
    “That might actually work. Or we could make them think it's one big allegory, so they feel smart and want to vote for us.”
    “But this story isn't smart. Also, we've probably gone on to long, and any twist now would feel forced. Not to mention I doubt anyone's even reading this far.”
    “Yeah, at this point they've probably realized this entire thing is bad dialogue with no point.”
    “Well don't tell them that.”
    “They already know it anyway.”
    “I know how we can win, Aonghus.”
    “How's that? And why'd you call me Aonghus when we already established that in the first line of dialogue? That's what the 'Aonghus said' means.”
    “I find it helps in long bits of dialogue to reestablish who's saying what. And we can win if we all die.”
    “That doesn't seem like a very good way to win though.”
    “Well, it'd only be in the story. I mean, if the story says we died, but we actually didn't, the audience would be none the wiser.”
    “True, but how is dying going to redeem this story? We've already dug such a deep hole of story that I doubt we can get out.”
    “I don't know, at this point we can probably say anything. No one's going to read this far in. Maybe we should ignore this entire conversation, and turn it into an action story right after the author reveals that we're figments of his imagination?”
    “Right. Let's do that.”

    On this particular day, however, Aonghus and Friedhold were about to be involved in a massive gladiatorial duel for the Emperor himself. Aonghus was on the Blue team, and Friedhold was on the Yellow. As the two marched out onto the field, a booming voice announced the match was about to begin. The Arena itself was a large, round building, roofless, with two hallways shooting out from either side of the ring.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    It's actually just the Arena from Oblivion because I have no imagination
    Both halls were blocked by iron gates, behind which stood Aonghus and Friedhold. Then the gates dropped, and both men ran forward. Aonghus swung his sword at Friedhold, but it became lodged in Friedhold's shield. Friedhold thrust his sword to kill Aonghus, but then he stopped. He couldn't kill Aonghus, because G. Friedhold isn't much of a user name. Friedhold dropped his weapon and shield.
    “Let's do an zombie story, instead. We can't kill each other, because the author wouldn't want to be G. Friedhold,” Friedhold declared.
    “Yeah, or Aonghus G. Speaking of G, where is that guy? He's only been in the story once,” Aonghus said.
    “No, he was the announcer, remember?”
    “Oh, that was him?”
    “Yeah, plus he's the director.”
    “The what?”
    “He decides what zombies show up when. And when we get weapons, and health, and so on.”
    “Oh. He better not be a dick about it.”
    “Let's hope not.”

    On this particular day, however, Aonghus and Friedhold were fighting off the zombie apocalypse. They had already battled through hundreds, but more were coming. They were blockaded into a small room, easy to defend, but impossible to escape from. They had only pistols and shotguns.
    “Hey, why don't we get like, Gatling guns or something? I mean, the author can't kill us, so why doesn't he just make us insanely powerful?”
    “I guess it's more exciting this way. And doesn't G. decide that stuff?”
    “Sort of. He decides, the author gives it the green light. Oh, and excitement, he's not the one who actually has to fight off the zombies.”
    “Yeah, what's the deal with that? He never does anything, just makes us do it.”
    While they were talking, a zombie dropped down from the ceiling, and leaped upon Friedhold. As Aonghus grabbed his gun to shoot it, he realized that he now had only his fists to fight off the horde. He also learned that he was now in a bright pink pony suit, and if he wanted to get out of it, he should respect the author.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Like this but with more pussy and less cat.
    Aonghus quickly spewed a string of praises about Aonghus G. Friedhold and found he was now armed with an M-16 and Spartan abs. He went to shoot the zombie, but then the author remembered that he can't write action scenes, and thus the duo were removed from that story.

    On this particular day, however, Aonghus and Friedhold were deep in the Amazon, looking for the lost treasure of Francisco Pizarro. Having trekked for weeks, they now found themselves at the entrance to an ancient Incan temple, and their only clue as to the location of the treasure.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    See? No imagination in this one.

    “Jesus H. Christ! Can he just make up his mind and put us in a story for more than two paragraphs?” Aonghus yelled.
    “It seems he wants to write a good story this time, but lacks the inspiration to do so.”
    “Well, why doesn't he just give up and wait for the inspiration? The best one he's written was submitted at 11 on Sunday, now he's trying to force a story and getting in return.”
    The author considered this argument. He realized he'd written 2 pages already, but didn't have a real story to submit. He thought about submitting what he had, and praying for the best. Then he decided that even if he lacked a story, he had written the entire 2 pages without thought. They had just come to him, and in the end, that was good enough for him. As such, he decided to write the most natural story to him, and not try to force an adventure. That could wait for another time.

    On this particular day, however, Aonghus and Friedhold were watching T.V. while receiving massages in their villa in the Tuscan countryside of Italy. They had recently completed a million dollar arms deal, and were enjoying their success with a bottle of champagne and massages from two of the most beautiful Italian women they had ever seen. The show on the T.V. was a news broadcast about Riga, something about a sudden influx of priests to the region.
    “I could get used to this, you know. Why don't we always get stories like this?” Aonghus wondered aloud.
    Friedhold was about to reply, but a particularly rough push from the masseuse cracked his spine, and he was cut off before he could start. Suddenly, G. burst into the room with two .45 caliber Colts. He killed both of the Italians in one shot each, and then killed Aonghus and Friedhold before either of them had time to object to this turn of events. The author, it seemed, had decided he could live with being called G. if it meant writing the first thing that came to mind. The author then took the time to check the members list, and realizing that he couldn't use “G. already existed” as an excuse not to kill the two off, they resurrected and forgot about the whole thing.
    Aonghus turned to Friedhold.
    “You're such a Butt Bandit.”

    In the end, Aonghus G. Friedhold had no story at all.

    Last edited by Dance; May 10, 2013 at 11:57 AM.

  3. #23

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 88a – Sorry, But Your Invitation is Hereby Rescinded. Get Out!
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Por amor al arte
    “Ok, boys and girls, sit down, quiet now. Ok now… where is your lab coat my friend?”
    “I didn’t know….”
    “There is a big poster in the door that says ALL whom enter my domains must wear a white lab coat. Since it´s your first day I´ll be soft on you. You have 3 minutes to get a coat, past the three minutes you won’t be allowed back in.”
    I looked at my class of 30 students. More girls than boys fortunately, a whole group of young first year Medicine students eager to learn the art of healing the human body. More than half would not make it past their first year, my amphitheatre class was considered to be the toughest course of them all. It was my second year of giving classes, and in very short time I had grew a reputation of being the most demanding Instructor of Human Anatomy. Bad luck for them.


    “Right, so, my name is Victor Ortiz, and I will be your Instructor for Anatomy of the Digestive, Genital-Urinary and Endocrine System. Some of you will pass my course, some will not, some will love me, and most of you will come to hate me; but all of you will have to suffer me to get through this class. When it comes to this particular Anatomy I´m the man of the hour, with me you will learn and learn a lot. I will put you through hell and you´ll come out steel.”
    I took a pause to let them absorb this information. I remembered my first day as a Medicine student, I was nervous, nervous as I had never been before, now I could see that nervousness in my new student´s eyes. I smiled.
    “Now, I only ask two things out of you. Dedication and Responsibility, no doctor can live without those. This first crash course into Anatomy is designed to test your character, to see if you got what it takes to become a doctor. Forget about high school and fairness. You are in the big leagues now. And it will only get harder from now on.” I could almost see their faces pale and their bodies flinch at the prospect of the harsh subjects and demanding lifestyle that our career demanded.
    The boy that had went out to get a white coat came back panting into the classroom.
    “Two minutes and fifteen seconds. Good, take a seat.” I told him. I got up and started to walk in one of the aisles left in between the rows of chairs.


    “Forget about sleeping well, eating healthy, getting drunk at late-night parties and of filling the web with gossips of your Facebook friends. I hope that each of you becomes a student of this school and not just a tumor dressed in white.” I walked back to the front. “Now, I´m certain that most of you have spent the whole of your lives in private schools and therefore have no clue about hard work and study habits, I know that a great deal of you are here because your mom and dad could not afford to send you to one of the private schools that teach that thing that they dare to call “Medicine”. I´m glad to see some faces of people that have had to work and work hard to get here, that will have to take copies from the library´s books and borrow money from their classmates just to get through the day. A piece of advice: don’t matter how many bacteria the food from the stores outside the school have, nothing beats that combination of cheap, tasty and E.Coli that our tacos have.” Some laughed at my comment, some looked at each other with concerned glances.




    I noticed that one of the girls in the front row had mydriatic eyes (pupil dilatation for the pagans in the subject).
    “Feel ok my child?” I asked.
    “Yes, it´s just that… dunno I find the smell irritating.”
    I gave her a smile, half pity, half shame.
    “Then get used to it girl, cause formol its what we breath here, fenol, alcohol (well you´re used to that one) ethanol, acetone, corpses, are our bread and butter over here; this reaction is normal since you are not used to it, but if by the end of my course you are not able to eat your lunch in front of a dead body I will resign my post.”
    The girl smiled back.
    “Well, that being said, outside of the class I´m the most accessible guy over here and will gladly answer your questions and doubts, that´s what I´m here for, but while we are inside these halls I ask of you silence and respect to myself and your classmates.”
    They looked eager, yet frightened, doubtful.
    “Any doubts?” I asked. “Anything you would like to know from me, girls try to abstain from making indecorous proposals, my girlfriend is within earshot and she will also be your Instructor so beware.” I said half-winking an eye, a signature gesture of mine.
    “What music do you like?” Some guy asked from the third row.
    “Almost anything lad, as long as it´s from before 2005, I just find the recent music boring and dull.”
    “What is your football team?” Asked to my surprise one girl in the front row.
    “C.F. América, since birth till death.” Some guys booed and whistled, my team was one of the most hated in all the country. “And all who disagrees gets a minus two point penalty in their final qualification.” The noises died down at once. “One more question.” I conceded.
    “Why are you studying Medicine?” Asked another girl almost at the back of the class.
    “Because of love.” I said. “Love to life, love to the art, love to the science of the human body, love to my girlfriend. Love.”
    I closed my eyes, and went back in time inside my head.
    Death was that brought me here, death of a loved one, and love kept me going, And love would keep my heart nodes pulsing.
    “Medicine is what I love.” I said and the class ended.

    Entrant 1 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    These were not some Dutch missionaries, nor Congo State Freelander Farmers lost or gone astray. These were British Colonial regulars and now the Horns of the Bull has laid them low. "You are not wanted here, Your invitation is hereby rescinded, now get out!"

    For Zulu Warriors to take on British regulars by day is like being soaked with cattle's blood and then taking a moonlit stroll ad mist fighting Hyenas and Lionesses on the hunt. The Zulu has come a long way since our 1st encounters with the British outworlders where our people died by the thousands....

    I actually fell sorry for these murdering souls for they never had a chance. Crept up upon beneath the moonlight's stare, our warriors waited as still grass on the Savannah for the right moment to strike. The death lunge was quick, and no warrior had to run more than fifteen paces to find a victim in the pale moon's light. It's hard to cock a rifle or blow into a bugle with your throat slit or a spear tip through your back.

    The camp's contingent of 200 or so men were all dead within seconds...The Gatling guns and field pieces that would have mowed down hundreds by day stood silent, never to be used against our people again. The Dutch outreach minister's life was spared so that he could live the remainder of his life in terror and spread the word...

    "The Zula are machine gun fodder by day, but vengeful Bull's by night." "Your invitation is hereby rescinded, now get out!"

    Entrant 2 - Ratzor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Muk'hta shaded his eyes from the scorching sun. It had reached zenith and hovered above the land like a blistering ball of unforgiveness and suffering. The carrier he commanded, Shuvas setp, was due to Fal Shorath, a small city close to the dangerous Akalveri border. It was a massive rectangular construct of grinding steel and plated metal, crawling slowly on huge tank threads. Within it's armored shell it carried millions upon million litres of water, the most valuable resource in all of Darum. To accompany him Muk'hta had recieved the aid of two companies of Drei shooters, all equiped with valuable Toshgowi firearms, firing crystal shards capable of penetrating most leather and even dent metal. They also wore coats made of the brown leather of Baruntos, the bi-pedal speices found deep in the Al'shevan deserts, providing excellent protection against slashes of any kind and shielded almost as good against shards as metal would.

    Further accompanying him was also four Desh'van. Female warriors dedicated to the preservation of water. They loathed the sun and refused to use shard weapons, as shards disintegrate into water upon contact with various substances. Still, they weared their Gaufei blades and Shuke daggers with a skill that made even the Drei pale in comparison. Muk'hta took a moment to glance at the desert surounding them, complete except for a few cliffs that dotted the landscape in sparse colonies. There was word that trade convoys had perished along this route before, and he had no intent to be scuffolded into the bandit shard mines of Karrum.

    He turned to tend to the instruments on the control panel when he saw that Merina, the Desh'van matron present, approached him with quick strides. She was slender, like all her sisters, with shoulder long red hair tied into a ponytail. The maundori silk robe of the Desh'van flowed behind her. "Kai shan Commander." She said knuckling her forehead and kneeling down. The formal greeting said this was business. "The water is in ripples Commander, we can even see it evaporate! When do we reach our destination?". "Kai va'tel Matron." He made a similiar bow as the Matron. "We will reach Fal Shorath in the next few hours, the loss of water hurt my Kutchwa but we are already moving at full speed.". It was true. For the last mooncycle they had been traveling at a speed which only the Shuvas could achieve amongst carriers. "That will not be sufficient. Every drop we lose to the ever present enemy is an insult to the Mother!" She said, carressing the handle of the shuke. Muk'hta wriggled from her gaze, eyes looking at him with the sharpness of steel. "I ask for your forgiveness matron, any attempt to increase our speed would surely overload our engines." He replied, trying to eye her hands and the surounding desert at the same time. That feeling he had told him something was about to happen, whatever it was suggesting the Desh'van or something yet to be uncovered he doubted it would be any good. "Sun embalm me! By this pace the eternal enemy will have claimed enough water to drench himself twice when we get to our destination! By all the incompeten.." Suddenly the ground erupted in front of them in cascades of sand and figures appeared from their hidding places on all sides of the carrier, shrugging dust of their cloakes. It was an ambush.

    A massive Sand Scarab crawled out of the burrow now present in front of them. The red skull of the bandits of Katarhea was painted on it's forehead. It let out a shrill roar and proceeded to charge towards them. Muk'hta had never seen a scarab of that size before. He could feel fear as it closed the distance. "It seems we'll have to continue this conversation later Matron, Aih'len Kavera." He said in broken voice, turning away from her to grab the comm-speaker on the command panel. "Ready the front batteries! I want two holes in that overgrown dung beetle in less than ten seconds, any less and I'll make you walk the remaining distance with nothing but a knife and two bags of salt!" He roared over the speaker to the gunning crew, none of his fear or doubt present in his voice. The Drei shooters was already rushing to the fortifications on the edges to take their shoots. The Desh'van sisters made a gracious jump towards the ground, their silk robes fluttering behind them like the sails of Akalveri skyships. The bandits was no later though and had taken up positions among the cover of the sand dunes and the few sorruounding cliffs, providing crossfire. Muk'tha could see how a Drei got hit by a shard in the back of his head. First it seemed to paralyze him, dropping his weapon and staring empty in front of him. As Muk'tha watched convulsions started to spread and soon the soldier collapsed in a pile over himself. Others around him did the same. The Desh'van had proceeded to slaughter those who threatened the water, their Gaufei blades sinking in and out of flesh faster than he could comprehend. Their Shuke daggers finding necks and spinal cords like heat seeking missiles. But regardless of all this the Scarab got closer, and was now only about 300 metres away.

    Where are those cannons? the thought barely slipped his mind before everything seemed to bleak and he had to cover his ears against the thundering roars of the frontal battery. The projectiles soared towards the towering abomination in front of them, making loud whisling noises. A direct hit! The Sand Scarab let out a new roar, this one filled with pain and agony. The men cheered around Muk'tha, picking of the last of the bandits among the dunes. The Desh'van sisters proceeded to extract the water from the corpses, leaving only when every drop was collected and the bodies of the bandits looked more like skeletons with a layer of skin than men who just died. That's the rule of the desert.


    Entrant 3 - Nazgûl Killer
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    My heart beating,
    I start sweating.
    I hold my shield ever so close
    I unsheathe my sword
    Relishing its screech
    It wobbles to its own accord
    Eager for flesh,
    Eager for death,
    Eager for a clash
    Happy to be out of its sheath.

    I start my sprint
    I'm not alone
    My comrades spit
    On the foes who have fallen
    We took them by surprise
    We took joy in their demise
    We Hack and slash,
    We Dodge and dash,
    We slaughter and kill
    They've had their last meal
    The joy of battle came upon us
    The battle was only in the name of the cross.

    Another foe dead at my feet
    Another man beat
    I looked at his face,
    I hastened my pace
    He was just a boy
    Just a toy
    Nothing more than a pawn
    In the war of man
    I dropped my sword
    It wobbled to its own accord
    I dropped my shield
    I walked with speed
    The massacre ensued
    The battle continued
    My mind had stopped
    My heart had gulped
    I gazed at the circle of misery
    That we created
    I gazed at the atrocity
    That we made
    My comrades halted
    My heart sulked
    I was amazed
    I was dazzled
    The misery we have created
    The horrendous stench we relished
    The stench of death it is
    The stench of misery it is
    Who would do this?
    Only monsters.

    Entrant 4 - R-teen
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    They escorted the British envoy to their commander. After walking uphill for a while, they arrived there at the top of the hill; their domestic leader was sitting on a wooden couch, with a sulk face, accompanied by a deep glower, giving him a majestic look.

    The emissary looked around at the field. Yesterday, it was the British who were lurking here, and now? It was their bodies that covered all the ground.

    The cold autumn breeze was touching his cheeks harshly. He was cold, inside and out.

    He knew in his mind, that the battle earlier today, wasn’t about gaining control of this small hill alone, but he couldn’t help his mind, which tried with every glance at the field, to show off their wickedness. For this small hill, was all this blood lost? Or it was bloodlust? Perhaps it was the blindness that made them view the human life as inferior to some worthless lands – worthless to them, worthy to their owners.

    The escorting guards said some lines to the commander in a language that the emissary couldn’t understand.

    The commander scoffed when the guard was finished, and pointed the guard, who knew English to come beside him, and the guard started translating his words with a ridiculous accent “He says ‘You want the bodies?’ ”, and one of his eyebrows was risen when his translator was asking the rhetorical question.

    The British nodded and said “Yes.”

    “And why should we hand them to you?” The translator translated.

    The British emissary gritted his teeth and asked “You know about honor, don’t you?”

    “You do? Coming out of nowhere, taking our hereditary lands, lands that belonged to our fathers, and their fathers before them to satisfy your greed. Does that sound like honor to you?”

    The guard was talking with such hatred, that he wondered if he was translating the words of his commander really, or was talking on his own.

    The emissary opened his mouth “That is the nature of the war –”, the translator cut him. Then he replied back “He says, and this is the nature of war too.”

    “War has rules. And I see neither my men nor me transgressing it. But your act is obviously a violation.”

    “I though they are the victors who write the rulebook. Are they not?”

    The words shot through him and pierced his chest. It put him in a trance.

    To be humiliated by someone like him, someone who he had no respect for, someone who couldn’t even understand him, in a place far away from his sweet home, was something he’d never foreseen. He knew well that there wasn’t a good war, but he preferred to be in the warring homeland itself; fighting familiar enemies, in familiar battle grounds, instead of this enemy and this land.

    War is war. That will never change. War is leaving your home knowing you may never see it again. War is kissing your loved ones goodbye, hugging them to hide your tears in their hair. It is seeing men, acquaintance and stranger, friend or foe, perish before your eyes. War is choosing between honor and shame, humiliation and fame. War is losing, from inside and outside, what you will never get back. War is walking in with a clean soul, for a praised end, and walking out with a darkened soul, leaving little respect for the end that dragged you to the struggle. War is your bullet, taking down a man, just because he is standing some meters in front of you. A man you don’t even know. A man that, wasn’t for war, you might have been best of friends with.

    War is, getting involved for a purpose, and keeping on for no purpose. Your purpose is lost when you shoot your first bullet. It is lost when you see your first brother fall. From then, there is only one thing that keeps you tied to the fight; the unreasonable reason of revenge; to not let the spilled blood of your brothers go in vain.

    Wars break out and cease, but with the first battle you company, a war breaks out inside of your heart that no treaty can cease, a pain that no medication can cure, a fire that no water can put out. From then, it doesn’t make a difference if you are on the battlefield, or sitting in front of a stove in a warm chair in your home; the war is on, and you can do nothing to soothe it. There is no running from it, for it isolates you, no matter how hard you fight it, and in your moments of loneliness, it haunts your soul, making your mind swallow the cruel sights of war your eyes have already captured, until it chokes you.

    War is, kill him, or he will kill you. War is, getting shot, lest you shoot. War is, flaring the hatred in your veins, because you are told to do so. War is, dictating yourself that you hate the man in front of you, and he hates you back, while deep inside, you both know you have no enmity.

    War is sweet only for those who haven’t experienced it1. There is nothing sweet in it when you take a close look. Even in the peak of victory, you are but encumbered by the memories of it. The sight of the last smile of each of your brothers will haunt you forever. And you begin to forget that you could sleep easily one day. And right now, he was haunted by the sights of his compatriots lying in the ground; the cruelest image his mind could think of.

    “Yes, it is the victor who writes the rules. But even the victors can show mercy and generosity sometimes.”

    “I show mercy to he who deserves it.”

    “Do us this favor… let us bury our dead… I beg of you… You gain nothing by disrespecting them.”

    “What do I get for not doing so?”

    Nothing. The word sped through his minds. There was nothing to offer in return. Spending all his energy to not let that ‘nothing’ slip his tongue, another phrase took advantage of his distractedness.

    “Tormenting your enemy” he didn’t know why he said that himself.
    When the translator finished, the commander raised an eyebrow, leaving the look of a wise man upon looking down at a fool.

    “It may not give them back to me” The British emissary gestured with his head towards the bodies, “but at least I would have an enemy, fighting whom weighs on my conscious forever. And that feeling of shame is the most profound damage you can inflict me right now, and it will last forever.”

    The disgusted look in the face of the commander, exchanged itself with a solemn one, with a trace of pity for the man he hated so much; for the invader. He calmly said something, with a less harsh tone this time.

    “He says ‘Do you honestly believe that I care whether you are suffering inside or not? All I want is to have you invaders out of my ancestral lands. After that, you don’t exist to me anymore…”

    The commander sniffed and looked around at the field and the thousands of dead bodies lying on the ground, in their glorious red uniforms turned crimson with their blood. He turned to look at the man again “You won’t have them unless you leave here, and promise to never come back.”

    He took a deep breath, and said “I hate this war as much as you do. Every inch of my body yearns to be in home again, to see my wife, my little daughter.
    But that decision… it is not mine to take, I’m afraid. It would’ve been already taken a while ago, if I had the power.”

    The commander scoffed “Then how do you expect us to be gentle to you… Shall we show you mercy, so you can kill more of us? Huh? So you can inflict more damage than what you have inflicted already?”

    He paused for a moment so his translator could keep up, and then he went on “I don’t know what your rules of war are, and I don’t care if you want the bodies of your friends back. But I do know, that I don’t answer a slap in my face with a smile; I punch back.

    If you won’t leave, fine. Stay. Stay until I give you the souls of your brothers instead of their bodies. And believe me, I will grant you the honor personally, if you don’t leave my sight right now.”

    His eyes paced between the commander and the translator. It was impossible to recognize if these were the commander’s words itself, or it was just the flow of the hatred of the translator. He couldn’t distinguish the words, but he could do the tones. And the tone which the commander was speaking in wasn’t near the tone of the translator.

    He sighed. There was no way to convince him, for sure. “As you wish”, his eyes dropped the ground, and he looked up to the commander’s face again “but know this; I will not regret fighting you ever again.”

    “Neither will I.”

    He stood up to his feet, and shot his last glance on the slaughterhouse around him as he turned to walk away. If he had the smallest doubt that war is the worst calamity that has befallen humankind, it was now vanished. It was the worst calamity.


    1) Pindaros

    And I apologize again, for my bad grammer. ;-)

    Entrant 5 - Dead Sun
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Solemn Souls

    Captain Harper let out a cool, gentle sigh as he surveyed the devastation in front of him with his ice-blue eyes, stroking the stubble upon his chin in deep consideration. What had happened here? The captain wondered, taking careful steps to avoid the fly-ridden bodies. The smell was putrid: a sickening mix between faeces, gunpowder and the general rotting smell of death. Harper seemed not to smell it, but his detachment certainly could, and although they remained at the base of the hill they were still shielding their noses from the stench. The killing wounds, and the life blood that no doubt had flowed greatly from them, were nigh on invisible against the red coats of the dead soldiers. Another sigh, but this time far more sincere.
    The Captain had been sent with a supply train to, unsurprisingly, deliver supplies to his old friend, Captain Robert Greene. The journey was only ten miles, but when the train was only two miles from destination could the vultures be seen. Heart filled with dread, Harper could barely bring himself to inspect each body for the fallen carcass of his friend. Perhaps his body still withdrew breath, but amongst this slaughter the hopes were beginning to diminish rapidly. Harper wasn't able to keep the silver glitter of a tear from escaping his eyes: he had found Robert.
    The fallen man was left undignified yet told the terrible tale of his death. The burns around his wrists told Harper that Robert had been roped and bound to the rock that his body splayed so gruesomely across. The multiple cuts that were still oozing with blood denoted that his friend had been tortured before his passing, and the disfigured mess of his face showed the manner of his death. Bludgeoning. Bones protruded from the skin, one eyeball was weeping a mixture of pus and blood, and the other had completely exploded leaving a hive for flies.
    Harper didn't want to touch the body. It was malformed, messy and made him feel sick. He didn't want to leave it as such either. The body of his friend deserved an honourable position, but the malignant hounds that had left him in such disgrace barred Harper from going near it. He ripped the edge of his sleeve off, found a bayonet and a stick, and tied them together. Leaving the emblem on the body, Harper left the way he came: tip-toeing over the fly-ridden bodies and sighing gently.




    TotW 89a – (K)Night Maneuvers! or Destiny is Mine
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Legio
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Knee deep in the muck, soaked in blood. They stood. Soaked to the bone, their coats of mail slick with freezing rain and dragging heavier with each step. They stood.

    A man with plumes in his helmet, a man with the crests of an obscure family painted crudely on his shield. A man who had survived countless battles with them. Them. A nameless terror, a force to be reckoned with on the field of battle. But he had fought them before. He had won. And he had survived. Stronger. More experienced.

    Covered in scars.

    He had seen scores of men die. His brothers. His leaders. His idols. Men who had fought in more battles than he, men who had started alongside him, and men who were nothing more than raw recruits bullied off the streets and into the ranks.

    But that was then. This was now. The corpses of slain fiends lay around him, around his soldiers. He could not see for the gobs of red on his helm. He could not hear for the clank of metal on metal around him. He could smell...he could smell the unholy stench of death. Shapes of men and beasts swirled across his vision. Memories stabbed into his brain, penetrating light sending shafts of pain into his very being. Falling men, screaming women and bleeding children.

    It would not happen again. He would make sure of it. Never again. Bellowing a fell cry, he urged his men onward. This great evil would die today.

    He would make sure of it.

    Entrant 1 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Moria at last...


    Under the light of a bright winter's moon the advanced scouts finally glanced at the ultimate prize...Moria.

    We're finally here, I don't believe it. So long has the journey been. Just as the lost tribes of Israel wandered the earth for an eternity, now the time of vengeance is at hand. Just as their shields showed, the five tribes of Eriador united under Arragon's banner to form the reascended state of Arnor. With the treasury left to him by the Elves now departed to the undying lands, Arragon resurrected what was thought forever lost. With amour and steel from Draw-fen craft masters, the warriors from Arnor polished their skills through quelling rebellion and butchering the adjacent orc tribes from Gundabad and the Misty Mountains.


    The blood lust for vengeance and retribution boiled in their veins, making their armour steam even ad mist the falling of a light snow. Soon enough, the spirits of their butchered families would be avenged. Once this final cesspool of Orcs was cleansed, then their lands would be safe for another generation. To the southeast lay Rohan, the vassaled state to that Malevolent usurper Saruman. The letters from home tell of how the Riders of Rohan bullied the outer provinces knowing full well the the army was on a distant march. Yes..."Moria at last"... then on the way home, Rohan would be next to learn long overdue respect...


    Entrant 2 - Valandur
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The blood stained sword glimmers in the air
    The silent wind blows and flows his hair
    The stars fade in the night compared to the fell light in his eyes
    As he stands there alone, confronted with his lies

    The truth lies before him
    Laying at his feet
    A body full of lies, ruin and deceit
    The strike of the sword blow defied his defeat

    He bears himself like a lord of old
    But he already knows that his guilty soul has been sold
    The past, the present, the future, gone in the wind
    For his destiny is eternal and his life he shall not win

    The victim groaned and looked into his eyes
    The fiery eyes that hid in disguise
    Remorse, regret, words have no meaning.
    The heart of this man is beyond redeeming.

    He raises the sword one last time
    And in a flash of silver the heartless is left weeping
    Another spirit has fled the world
    And the agony of his dying has at last been unfurled.

    In this lightless night
    Comes the end of the tale of the fallen Knight.

    Entrant 3 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Mathias Tanmore breathed out forcefully, glancing around with blurred vision for any more threats he was somewhat disappointed to see that there was no resistance in front of him. In fact the opposing lines were moving back. His own line, his men at arms were reforming as well. Looking at the bodies in front of them his men had been pushed back several yards but they had held! A large drop of blood dripped from the tip of his nose guard of his helm. Narrowing his eyes and feeling his breath catch in his throat. Was that his?

    Suddenly confused and feeling slightly lost in his own mind Mathias tried to clear his head by shaking his head. A rupture of pain erupted as he tried staggering him slightly. Breathing more forcefully now as he heard the fluttering volume of voices around him. Some concerned, some angry, no one asking him if he was ok. Glancing down his body as he managed to sheath his sword. His tabard was soaked in blood; had he really been that much of a berserker...Another drop caught his attention. Again from the nose guard. Raising his now free right hand he ran a hand along his helmet it was slightly sticky and warm lowering his hand he saw his gauntleted palm shining red. Something was wrong. His gut now starting to churn he tore off his gauntlet somehow. His mind was now too clouded to bother. He could barely hear anyone now. It was all a muddle of noise. Narrowing his eyes and forcing himself to focus on the boot of a fallen soldier he ran a shaking hand along the crest of his helmet. There! There was an indentation near the top of helm aligned downwards it seemed. The edge was sharp, he felt a moment of dull pain as his finger caught it. Wincing as he removed his flesh from the edge he touched the other side. It was a small gap.


    Wide enough just to slip his fourth finger (pinky) into the morass to investigate. Besieged by another wave of vertigo he sucked in breathes of air to try and steady himself. As he probed the gash in his helm he felt more warm wetness, no doubt blood. Yet the thought of it being his own didn't register to his struggling mind. Feeling someone tugging his arm to his left Mathias turned confused to look at his assailant. Through the muddle of noises and distortion he heard the words


    "Leave it out mate, come on back in line Matti"

    Mumbling with a thick dry mouth in a bit Mathias gasped in pain as he felt pressure at the top of his skull. Drawing his finger back from its investigation the pressure stopped but the pain remained. Sending his finger down again into the crevice of his helm he felt a hot ragged man of something. As the pressure of pain returned his sluggish mind eventually worked out the conclusion. Knowing that his helmet had been split in the last charge and knowing that the blade that had dealt the blow had gone much deeper then just the helmet brought his adrenaline numbed nerves back to life. Screaming in pain as every nerve came alive at once he tore his finger as he yanked it out of the helmet. Instantly feeling his stomach contract as he doubled over screaming silently in pain as his tortured dry throat struggled to hold back the rising bile. Having fallen to knee's with the effort of his vomiting Mathias now struggled to breath in and scream at the same time. How could someone remain awake with such pain rocking through their skulls. Even breathing added its own whiplash of pain to his body. His sense of hearing was now almost completely muddled.

    He heard something around him as he felt himself being hauled up. Taking a staggering step back from the vertigo he saw dumbly two of his fellow soldier standing in front of him clicking and clapping in front of his face. Their words made no sense. Whose face was grey and white as a dead man’s? Why was the amount of blood over him a concern? His entire world was concerned with pain and awful vertigo. Despite his fellow men's attempt at holding him upwards his pain added brain forced his limbs forward. Dropping like a stone onto the muddy floor the action dug the jagged edges of the helmet into his head. The pain that had been growing in his chest was now almost comparable to his head. Yet his strength was failing him now. He strained to move his arms, his legs and his fingers. Even his free hands’ fingers struggled to move now. As he couldn’t draw in breath from his failed lungs anymore Mathias felt the stupor mist around his brain grow stronger and more sense dulling. Yet even as his eyes closed for the final time he felt his heart beat through the earth...It was too fast. Almost like the charging gallop of hooves and the thumping of armoured men struggling to reform the line.

    Entrant 4 - Eazyrider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The movement and maneuvering of Knights at night with the minimum of sound was at the least impossible; reflected Dergog, captain of the night’s expedition. In all his years as a professional soldier he had made proverbs and statements, of varied aspects within the army, only to be later proven false by an unlikely exception; this assertion however had held true.

    Such a long standing comment demanded an explanation, he believed. There was a science to everything and anything that was undeniable. And so how he had laid out his own philosophy many times before he set together to decipher this one: Petulance and irritability were core characteristics of the cream of young nobility, this was; of their wealthy, and what he would call pompous, lifestyle in which they had brought up around. The mentality of supreme authority and lineage, entertained by their tutors and parents, would nurture these attributes furthermore, which combined with the luxuries of the wealthy would build the perfect persona for the basic Knight. The fact that majority of Knights were young would explain his current difficult expedition nicely. The irregularities, Knights which didn’t engender such foolish notions, would have fallen to what the radicals liked to call ‘peer pressure’.


    Happy with himself, yet unhappy with predicament Dergog now focused his attentions to the task at hand: raiding the Tomboli outpost. Eazy enough with a group of veteran soldiers, but with this young ‘rabble’ he was at a loss. Nevertheless as a professional he was required to carry out his task without question, and with Knights under his command it was assumed he was to be grateful.


    Keeping his sword low, as not to glint in the moonlight, Dergog urged his company of men forward through the long glades of grass. The campfires from the outpost could be seen from miles around. It was now apparent that the site chosen was a good one; it sat on a gradual acclivity in the land which made the highest point.


    Movement. ‘Move now, quiet,’ He hissed at the Knights over his shoulder. Ruffling and stamping signaled they had understood the first part of the order.


    He could
    almost feel the turbulence in the air as the first arrow struck, but he did feel the hot slick blood slap his face; the knight in front of him collapsed, arrow protruding from his chest. He had been the youngest in the company. The thought emerged as a statement, no emotional value; he was a professional. ‘Get down you bastards!’ The men around him made a somewhat ostentatious show of falling to the ground, to the amazement of Dergog; how was that even possible?

    Crawling on the ground he frantically thought about his possible options: he had lost all element of surprise and rather had been caught off guard, pinned with only a general sense of where the arrows were coming from. He tried concocting a plan in which he could lead a retreat with the least number of casualties, but time and time again the thought came back to him:

    (K)night Maneuvers are impossible!




    TotW 90a – A Clear Winter's Day
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Eazyrider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Salzburg, Austria, 1737
    A clear winter’s day: something he had yearned for days on end. The storm had lasted longer than expected: Strong winds had beat on the windows unrelenting , coupled with heavy snow fall; and from what he heard in some parts of Salzburg ice pellets had fallen, sleet. Locked in the university of Salzburg with little but the companionship, if that was what it would be called, of professors and servants; he had been forced to remain behind before the storm; the neglection of his studies had obligated him to.

    His heart had been dulled. The melodramatic and zestful Leopold which had entered the university had been humbled and blunted; of the long course sessions and unecessary studies. He hadn’t seen day light for two days, but now it was here: the gentle warmth of the sun on his back, the cool breath escaping his mouth only to fog and disintegrate, the soft crisp crunch of his boots on newly fallen snow as he made his escapade away from the academy. It was all here.


    However attenuated he might be the flame never died, his passion had been restrained in the past days but: ‘’distance makes the heart grow fonder’’. The object of his desire was not far from here: the perfect embodiment of mind and soul. The intermediate between the tangible and the spritiual. The way to pass away boredom.


    He sprinted his way through the streets of Salzburg. No one would be up at this hour, esspecially not after such weather. Windows smothered and blocked with snow the city felt desolate and barren. Only the whisper of a gentle breeze, the remainder of the gale, and the occasional creek of a tipped cart, heavy laden with white, accompanied Leopold to his destination. The Salzburg cadethral.


    It’s baroque style of architecture was complimented by the snow, hanging deftly from the slight ledges of the otherwise flat structure. It’s magnificent white marble stone was in uniform with the snow resembling a looming ice palace. As the sun creeped higher small lumps of snow began to sunder from the ledges. Leopold had to shovel some snow off the front entrance before he was able to push the massive doors open.


    He was greeted by a wave of opressive and humid air, the result of the isolation and lack of convection and ventilation. But that did not deter him, his prize was sitting across the hall and he dare not turn back now.


    Perfectly positioned between two pillars on a slight acclivty in the stone was a fine, grand: Piano. With it’s ivory keys and polished satin wood it fit accordingly with the Cathedral’s intricate designs and paintings. A dull colored light shone through stained glass to illuminate the instrument and heighten it’s glorious aura.


    Leopold seated himself meticulously, as he would do if there were a perceptible audience. Tenatively he tapped the central C key: the piano emitted a perfect, crisp, resounding sound that echoed of the walls excellently, the silence that followed highlighted it’s fineness. Stretching himself he began to warm up his fingers with a few basic finger excercises. Rising from C to G in various patterns before falling back. Now he was ready.


    Recalling upon his sharp memory he set to playing
    Cassation in G for Orchestra and Toy, a piece he himself had composed. Although it required a full orchestra to it to sound at its best, he set together to incorporate as much on the piano: the melody sounded splendidly as he struck the first chords. The empty Cathedral war soon filled with a divine harmony that resonated and exalted in its loudness. His fingers worked in a well practiced motion, moving to and fro proficiently. His mind swam in delight; stress, fear and insecurities all released in sound that encompassed him.

    He had worked the piano to the penultimate bar, the tone inflected greatly, ready to fall low to the final powerful chord, when the cathedral gates burst open. In stepped a cloaked man. ‘Leopold Mozart. You have neglected your studies far too many times now. This, coupled with your escapade is stepping the over the line.’ The music stopped. ‘You are to report back to the university where the head master will see you expelled.’




    Leopold Mozart went on to nurture and raise one of the most revered musicians of the time:

    Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart…





    Entrant 1 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Christopher Scott looked out his office window. A panoramic view of the beautiful landscapes of rural Vermont lay before him, the leaves just beginning to turn from green to orange. Picturesque would be the word to describe it, he thought. Then he turned back to his desk. Before him sat possibly the most important document he would ever sign; the contract for his tenure as Head of Marketing for the Religion of Islam. He briefly skimmed the contract before signing his name in the space in swirling, smooth letters, reminiscent of Arabic calligraphy.
    He looked up just as his assistant entered the room. She wasn't beautiful, but she was pretty and young enough for Christopher to have had thoughts of an affair. He fingered his wedding ring and said,
    “Yes, what is it?”
    “A press conference, sir. The C.E.O. thought that you should meet the press immediately, now that you're officially on their payroll,” she said, “And before you ask, I've already sent you the documents on your phone.” As if on a timer, his phone vibrated in that instant. “The limo is waiting on the pad outside when you're ready.” With that, she turned and walked back to her desk outside his office.
    Christopher grabbed his phone, a new iPhone 12, and walked out to the limo, hovering by the pad outside the door. He entered the car and it hovered away. Christopher checked the time. 12:23, the press conference started at... 12:30. He had time.
    When he got to the building where the conference was being held, he exited the car and strolled briskly inside and up to the podium. He faced the press, who immediately began to ask questions. He held his hands up for silence, and he received it.
    “This is going to be orderly. I will point at you and you ask your question. One question, please.”
    He looked around the room, taking the silence as confirmation of his request. He pointed to a reporter in the front row.
    “Mr. Scott, as the new Head of Marketing for Islam, how to plan on bolstering the public's acceptance for Islam?”
    “Well, one thing that Islam has always had to deal with is negative press. We've never been the most popular religion, but recently we have been increasing our market share considerably. One thing I've planned is the names. For a long time, converts to Islam have taken Islamic names after their conversion. I've found that while people do want to change their names, they usually don't want to go to an Islamic name, fearing ostracism and fear. In accordance with that, I'm going to say that new converts to Islam can change their name to Whatever They Want, or Something Else, if that was what they wanted to be. Next question,” he said, pointing to another member of the press.
    “Islam has always had the “72 Virgins,” but it's an often misleading myth for the most part, right?”
    “Yes, but I'm considering a system of rewards, wherein you could get two virgins for each percentage of your income you donate to Islam. Also, anyone who converts within a week of this conference will receive two extra virgins per percent, absolutely free. Next question.”
    “Is it true that you may institute a prayer debt policy?”
    “Yes, I may. I'm in talks with the C.E.O. about allowing people to not pray every day. In all honesty, who has time to pray five times a day any more? I know I don't. So we said, if you only pray twice one day, you can just pray an extra three times later, without any penalty, provided you pay off the debt within 7 days. I'd like to branch off for a second here, hold your questions please, and say something about our main competitor, Christianity. Christianity has long held the market, free to say and do what it wants. But we at Islam believe a new era is upon us. An era where the best religion wins, an era where people choose their religion because it has the best warranty plans and benefits, and not let their parents' choice affect their own. Christianity has held the market with an iron fist for centuries, and quite frankly, Islam plans to change that. Also, Islam is now 50% more suicide free. Thank you, and Allah be with you.”

    Entrant 2 - midterm360
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    A Costly Mistake

    It was crisp winter morning and the Count Elden had received order from his liege to relieve to troops at Kalvyrn who had been under siege for several months. It was a busy morning, ensuring that all the necessary arrangements had been made; An AWOL percentage of only 3% and an adequate supply train. Afterall an army runs on its stomach and by ensuring theirs was the only source of food for miles desertion would take a lighter toll, but more importantly to survive the long 4 day march, food was essential. Elden only hoped they would make it in time. He had expressed his concerns to his kings counsel.
    "Nylfiirn will be left totally undefended! A passing army of maurauders could come at any time, killing the old and young, and having their way with the women."
    His pleas fell on deaf ears and 2 days prior he had received the orders to march his garrison to the relief of Kalvyrn. A grim prospect to be certain, so far in this war they had been outmaneuvered, out numbered, and outclassed at every turn. It was a very real possibility that they would lose this war and their kingdom, their culture, their way of life would be lost forever... Elden reminded himself not to dwell too much of the future and to what he could with the time he had been given. Yes. That helped him focus.
    Four days later he arrived at Kalvyrn to find it burned to the ground with a mound of bodies in the center, and a large entangled set of tracks that bespoke a large army had been there and gone. Elden's eyes went wide and a single tear rolled down his wrinkled and grizzly face.
    "The garrison here was much smaller than our own, but the walls... and the men themselves were good honest men, and hard fighters they... they should have..."
    His voice trailed off at a loss for words. Upon reaching the center of the town he fell in a slump in sobs. They were too late. Judging by the tracks, and the face some fire were still burning meant the fighting could have only ended at most 12 hours ago.
    His eyes suddenly went white, he lost his breath and for a moment he gasped for air as panic set in as he realized... The tracks were straight for Nylfiirn"
    Shaking himself from his stupor he bellowed
    "Mount up men! We march to Nylfiirn!"

    Entrant 3 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 





    "Who was He?"

    Yep... believe it or not 200 feet from my window he was hanging there like a side of beef in the butcher shop window for everyone to see. I'm told that folks taking their evening constitutional the night before thought he was just standing on his porch so they paid it no never mind. Come to find out the next morning that that mournful soul had been hanging their, feet dangling off his own porch for coming up on the better part of a day. And yes there is a story behind it all...

    The night before, The Hanging Man's neighbor from across the street had been out in the alleyway waving a gun in the air and saying that he was going the take everyone in the park* out. This prompted my neighbor to call the cops who came out and gave the gunman a complete look over but surprisingly did not arrest him for making the lethal threat and promise to his neighbors. Now low and behold not eight hours later the man who ratted the gunman out turns up dead. Coincidence, gainful advantage by a third party, or vengeful justice taken out on a rat?

    Now of course the police made a mandatory appearance and cut Ole Boy down from his lofty perch, just as soon as they got around to asking a few questions here and there. So by and by we come to find out that The Hanging Man worked at Wal-Mart, had a daughter, and some form of cancer as well. They say he was respectful and kind enough but was generally a loner and kept to himself. So now you have choices and options as to what really happened. Did Ole Boy hang himself as the police figure, did the gunman exact due justice, or did a third party take undue advantage of the situation?

    Now given all of this I'm very ashamed to say that this man lived and died not 200 feet from my window and all I can contribute
    is but the simple phrase.... "Who was He?"


    *the trailer park I live in.



    TotW 91a – Spartans on the March
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Wrath of the Damned


    Even beneath a sweltering sun, wearing bronze amour so hot it would sear deer meat in a instant, they did not sweat. Even as dust clouds whirled around them, making thirst that would drive a herd of Savannah wilder beasts into the waiting jaws of crocodiles but for a mere drop of liquid to moisten cracked, blood soaked lips....they would not drink.

    The Eternally damned do not thirst nor require perspiration, they just lumber on driven beyond insanity by the instinctive need of soul cracking vengeance to atone for allowing their own flesh and blood to be slaughtered and then hung like gutted pigs in the marketplace. This was the bounty served by the Spartan's collective choice of honor above family and flesh.

    The honor of Sparta was chosen over the preservation of loved ones and now the promise of devine vengeance would be fulfilled. Soon all of them would give the boatman a coin, so that they may be reunited with loved ones in the life beyond. Maggots now frolicked in the crevice craved out of one officer's torso, a victory trophy from the battle of six days past. He did not mind and was actually happy for the maggots good fortune, because the distraction they provided in their playfulness gave him respite from the vision of his son roasted alive on a spit like a some rancid, pus -filled, chunk of venison.

    For him this was a type of bliss, to be beyond mortal pain and anguish...

    Soon...Athens proper would feel their embrace. An embrace that only the Wrath of the Damned could provide...

    Entrant 1 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    What had driven the Gods to such wrath? Surely the end was here, for the Earth to spit forth such fire and ash. Men, strong men, withered and died as the ash coated and filled their lungs. Children ran the streets, screaming for their mothers before they would collapse, heavy from the weight of the soot. Yet here he was, and was he affected? Looking down and around, he could see that there was a layer of dust coating his body, but he could breathe as well as ever. But why? Why was he spared? He could feel the ash in his lungs, filling up with every breath. He forced himself to stop breathing, only to find that his breath had been reflex, not necessity. He turned around, slowly absorbing the entirety of the scene around him. The town was small, no more than 300 people lived there, and he could feel each of them, as they joined the ferryman on his voyage. His legs lost their strength, and he collapsed in the street. He lay there, as the dust and ash began to cover him, a blanket of earth. His eyes were weary too, and he drifted into sleep.

    What has been green is now brown
    The grass turned to dust
    The water is all gone
    The metals turned to rust

    What change had occurred?
    To bring this about
    What happened, o Gods?
    To force us to doubt

    He awoke, then, after what could have been years. The ash was thick as he stirred, but he managed to push through it to the surface. It was dark, just past dusk it seemed. But dusk had not come. It was not yet Midday, but the clouds of ash had blotted out the sun. He did not realize this for some time, and when it did, he stopped dead in his tracks and wept. His tears left clean streaks on his face, and he turned them to the sky, crying, ‘Oh Gods, why? What have they done to deserve this? Why let me live if not to save them from this fate?’ He stood there for some time, hoping for some reply from beyond, some sign to answer him. For days he stood there, then weeks. He was not hungry, nor thirsty, nor did he breath. Then, one day, the sun shone through the clouds, illuminating him. He looked up into the sun, hoping perhaps Apollo was coming to tell him something, anything, but no. The clouds were just beginning to depart. The sun soon retreated back, and he turned his gaze to the earth again. After some time had passed, he fell to the ground. His fall was cushioned by the layers of soot and ash, and a cloud billowed around him as he landed. He felt something sharp in the soot next to his arm. He grabbed it, a broken piece of a jar. Gripping it tightly, he brought it to his throat. He wept, one last time, before ending his life. As his blood soaked the earth, a thunder crack shook the earth. It began to rain.

    Immortality had been given
    Now it was taken
    None can know the Gods
    Even those they have shaken

    The immortal had wept
    And take life
    Did the gods then weep?
    And end mortal strife?
    Entrant 2 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A soft drizzle descends upon us as we wait, each raindrop deflecting off our mud caked pickelhauben. Our artillery booms overhead, but due to the incessant barrages they have dolled out, their barrels are worn and the shells go every which way. I reach up and vainly attempt to wipe off the mixture of mud and sweat off my face. I walk toward Mueller, my best friend, and rats the size of my head scurry off in a multitude of directions, ending their gorging on pieces of the deceased. Mueller is gazing towards the British lines, unflinching as the British guns answer ours. I approach him, and as I open my mouth, our guns go silent; we know what that means. I refrain from talking to Mueller; I refrain from giving him my watch. He has always wanted that watch, a triviality in the hell that is our day to day lives, and I told him that I would let him have it when I died. I feel that time is fast approaching, though I don't know why. As the guns go silent I prepare myself. Then the whistles blow. I walk toward the edge of the trench and put my right arm over and hoist myself up: I have just gone over the top.

    Once I get my footing I come to notice the hell which has just broken loose. The British guns have not stopped and I know we must advance. I begin to run, thousands of my comrades at my back; I trip and fall into a shell hole as another shell lands where I had been standing moments before. I say a quick prayer and rise once again to my feet, we must keep pushing forward. I stagger over the crest of the shell hole and continue to run, but I am no longer in front, this is a blessing. As I run I watch as men get cut down by the thousands of bullets being relentlessly hurled to our men. Men, I think, these are not men, these are boys; boys who should be playing, boys who should be studying, boys who should be with a wonderful girl. These boys should not be sent to eat lead manufactured somewhere in London, neither should the boys from London be sent to lose their limbs to shells made in Berlin; to have their lungs pierced by a bayonet made in Cologne, or to have their necks sliced by shovels made in Dresden, all by other boys who should be only slicing meat as a butcher's assistant. But here I am, watching as fine young boys are caught by one in many thousands of bullets sent their way by other boys. Pro Quis Voluntas?

    I continue to stagger forward, now being tripped by the bodies of my comrades and friends, some recently deceased, others rotting in no man's land for the past week since the last push. My Pickelhauben does not fit my head, as it is not mine. I had lost mine in the last push, and am using my childhood friend Johannes', but he no longer needs it: he no longer has a head. I continue to push forward, but I stop and discharge my rifle. I am now only seventy yards from the British trench, I can almost smell them.

    I am now 30 yards away. I throw a grenade; it lands in the British trench and there is an explosion, I know I have taken the lives of several men, and I hope that this will spare the lives of my men. Mueller is now running beside me, I look at him, and smile the only kind of smile a man in my position can muster. This does not last long. I am soon covered in his blood as his body is perforated by a million Maxim bullets. I am now filled with rage, and I discharge my rifle, killing in cold blood the operator at the trigger of the Maxim gun, another cold blooded murderer. Within several seconds I am in the British trench, I remove my helmet and become a madman.

    I immediately kill a boy, no older than 16, not old enough to shave. When I have removed my spade from his neck I am immediately attacked by a much bigger man. I duck his blow and deliver one of my own, killing him instantly. As his helmet falls to the floor I notice a picture of a woman, a beautiful woman: his wife. I realize quickly that only a few of my comrades have reached the trench. I murder another man, perhaps in his 30s' and climb back over the top, into no man's land.

    I run as fast as my legs can carry me, miraculously dodging bullets and shells alike. I think of nothing but survival. I am like a savage, I may as well be carrying a spear. I give no thoughts to God, I give no thoughts to Mueller, I give no thoughts to the men I am tripping over, men who will stay there either until the rates finish devouring them, or artillery obliterates them. I am concentrating on one thing as I run, the pit in the ground that is our trench. I continue to run as I put out all thoughts from my head.


    I am now halfway back to my trench, halfway back to safety, halfway back to home. I then can no longer feel my leg, I stagger, and I fall to the bottom of a shell hole into a shallow puddle of dirty water. I know what this means; I know I am a dead man. I begin to review my life, my childhood, my schooling, my family. I begin to think how I was a mere week away from graduating from university the day I joined the army. But shouts of "Fur Der Kaiser" were quickly changed into shouts of pain; shouts of death. I will no longer become a businessman like my father; I will die at the bottom of this stinking hole, lying in a puddle of water, caked with dirt and particles of unlucky soldiers. A hole in which many more men will probably die before the war is over.

    I begin to think about the boy I killed, and his mother. I wonder about her reaction to his death, how she will cry when she receives the telegram. I then begin to think about Mueller's mother. Mueller was her last living child, his brothers having died at Tannenburg, a so called victory. Now Mueller is no longer alive, he is a number; just another number in a war with already far too many numbers.


    Our guns have resumed firing, and the British guns have ceased. I know what this means, a counter-attack. I hear the whistles of the British officers and the war cries of the young Tommies as they too go over the top. These war cries become cries of death, cries for mother, cries that could only come from boys. As I lie in the puddle I hear a word that I understand in both English and German: “Gas."

    I no longer care, I understand my impending death. I make no motion to put on my gas mask, but I can imagine my comrades going through the motions, wary of the prevailing winds that drift the gas back to our line. I can envision the Tommies hastily putting on their masks. I know many men will not put them on properly, and shiver at the thought of their screams as the gas slowly fills their lungs. The first gas shells land nearby. I watch as the gas slowly creeps toward me; I make my final prayers.

    I begin gasping for air as my lungs fill with the noxious gas. My lungs burn, my eyes burn, my skin burns, I hear cries of death from the newest Tommies, the ones who did not fasten their mask correctly. I listen as I slowly slip into death, as they do the same. Everything is a blur, as the gas slowly strangles the life out of me; it is a brutal death, though I do not make a sound. My grip on reality is slipping away. I see a creature, completely alien to me. It has Bug eyes, and a small snout that dangles from its face. I then realize what it is; it is a Tommie, coming to do the most humanitarian thing possible.

    I watch as he raises his rifle. His finger slowly seems to inch toward the trigger. What takes mere milliseconds to him is a lifetime to me. His finger finally reaches the trigger, and I manage to utter my final words as I lie on my stomach in this Godforsaken ditch "Hurry up"

    I see the trigger slowly move back.

    A Flash.

    Pro Quis Voluntas?
    Entrant 3 - Borissomeone
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I can feel the soft breeze as it lightly passes me, the smell of blood and emptied bowels thick in the air as my men die around me. My sweat is cooled by the wind as I ready myself to die, my thick armour a comfort upon my wide shoulders as I grip my war hammer, again ready to end more foul lives. We were but three hundred men on our way to the capital, Middenheim, when we were set upon by a hoard of Beastmen their ugly faces twisted in rage and hate as they poured out of the thick forest. A sigh leaves my lips, turning into a fine mist in the coolness of the morning, nothing to do but fight and hope to take as many of these disease ridden curs to the grave with us.

    My men, their distinctive armour and wolfs cloaks, fight like they have never before, perhaps the knowledge that they will all die no matter what gives them strength on this cold morning. I move forward back into the main battle line, landing my war hammer upon the chest of a large Beastman, its animal eyes widen in shock as its life is crushed from it, spinning I plant my next blow cleanly into the side of another’s head, grey matter sprays from its cracked skull as it drops the gore laden forest floor.

    I feel the rumble before seeing the Knights of Ulric, again, come crashing into the massed ranks of the Beastmen, their bleats of terror warm my heart as their crushed under the mighty war horse’s of the Knights, and those that still stand are quickly smashed to the ground by the frenzied Knights as they also try and take as many with them into the after life. It won’t be long now, only a few still stand. The Knights of Ulric are slowly over whelmed by sheer numbers, men pulled from their steads and hacked apart, their blood feeding the already soaked ground. I take a heavy blow and stumble back, my heart is like thunder in my ears, several massive brutes come at me large axes at the ready and death in their eyes.

    I look over the battle field as my end draws near, the bodies of the Teutogen Guard litter the battle ground, horrible wounds gaping back at me, I smile, I know an odd time to let a smile creep across my face, but we have died well today more than eight hundred foul enemy have given their lives to our war hammers, and now I will try to add a few more to that tally. The first dies quickly, as savage blow to its face, as another tries to land a blow upon me, turning and moving to the side it misses me, I knock it from its feet, finishing it with a powerful blow, it squeals as it dies. Suddenly my breath is taken from me as I’m hit from behind; I drop to one knee as I struggle to regain my feet, my long hair hangs over my face hiding the wide smile that paints it. Another blow removes my head; a great fountain of blood announces my death. Now I’m just another ghost of the many battle fields that cover his land of mine.
    Last edited by Dance; May 10, 2013 at 12:33 PM.

  4. #24

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 92a – Death to all Romans or Garden of Babylon
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Marechel Ney
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The wind blew from the north; it was not air, but sand.

    From sand emerged a sea of red shields. More and more came, and they continued past midday. Thirty-five thousand Roman legionaries passed through the harsh winds of sand. The heat beat down relentlessly; the only water to quench the desert’s thirst was in the already thick blood of the soldiers. North Mesopotamia offered no relent for a foreign army.
    Through the sand emerged a tired horse that made its way to the front of the column. It was followed by three others. The former’s rider, a grizzled old man, held up his arm to shield his eyes. The column stopped once they reached him. For a long moment Crassus looked out into the distance, until a Centurion got the will to approach him.
    “Sir”, the man began, knowing all too well that he was speaking to a member of the Triumvirate. “We must get moving” Crassus stared for a moment longer, then spoke. “Last night I had a dream. I would believe that the Gods sent me a bad omen.” And as if on queue, Crassus’ eyes were hit by a shimmer. Over a hill to the north something had flashed. Then it happened again. And once more. The Centurion once more inquired. “Sir. Are you alright?” Crassus turned. “By Jupiter, Julianus. No, I am not. Surena has managed to hunt us like we hunt him.” Crassus cursed and spit into the sand. It evaporated before it hit the ground. Julianus stood transfixed. Crassus turned to his son. “Prepare the men for battle already.” He wandered off, cursing the Gods.


    Two hours later, the wind had died. Four miles from Carrhae, titans would clash. The thirty-five thousand were deployed in battalion square. On the north face of this, Julianus organized his men into something presentable. No man could stand the desert heat for long. Crassus paraded down the lines. In the distance, Surena’s men had begun to beat war drums. The noise echoed back. Knowing his men’s terror, Crassus finally stopped, turned, and spoke.

    “Romans!” The desert seemed to go quiet. “Day of battle has arrived. Although we do not wish for war, eastern barbarians force us upon it. To bring Roman virtue to the world, to defeat the Parthian scum, we must fight!” Cheering emerged, so much that no one noticed the short arrow that brushed Crassus’ nose. Crying out, Crassus pointed every which way. Pila were tossed by the dozens at the enemy, sand. Finally someone noticed the short figure escaping on horseback. A handful of Syrian Auxiliaries opened fire. One of them hit the mark, and the would-be assassin tumbled onto the sand. Gallic cavalry proceeded to dismember him.
    Crassus beamed. “What a fool! To think that his Gods would allow him success in an endeavor against man!” Soldiers cheered. “Why do they believe that Rome is the evil! We are the greatest force on the earth! We conquer and educate the barbarous scum, we accept them, and then they try to kill us! Luckily, for most they will not! Their Gods are dead; all that stands for us to beat is the feminine army before us.”


    And yet in battle, Crassus’ various sacrifices did not prevail. Romans were slaughtered en masse. First came the arrows, then the cataphracts. Crassus’ son was slain; his father ordered the retreat to Carrhae. On the field lay over 20,000 Roman dead. Among a heap of dead, a few groaned. One was Julianus. Prying himself loose from two of his dead soldiers who lay upon him, the battered Centurion sat against a shield and examined his wounds. Simple chainmail and leather had been broken by an arrow, which he pried out in pain. His head had been smashed by a mace in the initial cataphract charge, his memory nearly erased of the battle until then. Confused, he considered his demise in the desert heat; no one was left, not even the Parthians. He considered, that is, until from behind him, a cheer came. Three yards behind his shield, he heard the softest sound of a horses hoof. Then a voice boomed. “Followers of the great Mazda!” The cheer came once more. “You have fought well, have saved the land of our ancestors, and have defeated the barbaric scourge!”

    Julianus could recognize the voice he had heard so much of, a voice tainted, like of all Generals with having spoken the orders to kill. Slowly, Julianus summed up his strength and wrapped his hand around a pilum. “The glory of the great Mazda is yours! The Roman do not know of the sweetness of Parthian living; they spit upon the name of Zoroaster, and they oppose all that his good!” Julianus cursed Surena’s name as he prepared. “They believe that their Gods protect them! Obviously, this is not so. If their Gods are so great, if they eclipse the Mazda, let me by struck down by them!” Julianus tried to lift, but he could not. Well learned, he had served as a translator during the campaign and understood all of Surena’s words. Surena paused and looked to the heavens. His men laughed. “See, soldiers! Their propaganda is lies! Their Gods are dead!” And at this Surena heard a Latin cry. To Parthians, it was but an inaudible barbarous cry; to wounded Romans, they recognized it as “Blasphemy”.

    The javelin flew threw the air, striking flesh and driving through. A scream went up. The sand shook as the victim fell, its blood gushing out. Then Julianus was hit by a score of arrows at once, then another score, then ten more, until it appeared that the Parthian army had dumped their spare ammunition onto his body. Surena, soaked in blood, got up, softly cursing. Standing beside his slain horse, he cried out again. “And such fools now attempt to kill me! Barbaric Romans know not anything of the world; they must be taught! They are but fools, like this one who had the worst aim the Mazda could envision! Is it any wonder that these servants of Mainyu are now but corpses for the birds?”

    And Julianus’ blood quenched the desert thirst. Although both sides, in different uniforms, with different armaments, and with different religions, were separated between living and dead, both were correct in their assumptions of the evil of the other. In fact, both sides participated in the most barbarous act of all.

    Entrant 1 - Maximinus Thrax
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    After a long and tiresome war against the king of Babylon, Cyrus of Persia was advancing against his enemy who had locked himself within the fabled city, his last bastion of power. Everybody had abandoned the Babylonian monarch, even his subjects, disgusted with such tyranny and random behaviour. The king was protected only by a throng of men recruited among the town's citizens, most of them barely capable of holding a weapon in their hands. Additional mercenary soldiers from Lydia and Cappadocia, were stationed in the northern sections of the town, most likely waiting for an oportunity to flee. The alliance with the kings of Asia Minor was a memory of the past; some of them had been defeated by sword while others persuaded by Cyrus to abandon the Babylonian. Croesus... Even the mighty Croesus of Lydia acknowledged the overcome, thus abandoning the cause. His treasury has been divided partially among Persian forces while his soldiers are now obeying Cyrus' orders.

    Slowly, the army approached the city unhindered and raised the camp only a mile away from the huge walls. The sun was about to set when Tigranes, the prince of Armenia, entered in a hurry in the general's tent and adressed to his liege and childhood friend.

    "Milord, two scouts have just arrived, revealing that the city is engulfed in celebrations for a week now. Everybody is drunk and the king is nowhere to be found. There are rumors circulating that he has left the city aided by those foreign mercenaries but these two men believe he and his retinue are hiding inside the Hanging Gardens of queen Semiramis. What are you orders?"

    "The enemy forces are too insignificant to pose a reasonable challenge. They think the walls are sufficient to defend them, since their granaries can provide food for many months. We shall dig moats and ditches on the Western part of the city, where there are no solid fortifications whatsoever, since Euphrates itself protects Babylon like a pavise. The crossing will be much easier after the river's streams will be diverted away. Our brave soldiers will rest tonight; I expect this task to be accomplished within a week, for there is no time to waste, even though the victory is in our hands."

    The soldiers, standing on the walls of their mighty citadel, were laughing and throwing insults at Cyrus and his Persians. Still, such a pathetic and meaningless effort coming from a handful of drunks wasn't enough to disrupt Cyrus' thoughts, whose only priority was to capture the city and its king without loosing too much of his men in the process. It is said that sometimes a word can be mightier than a sword; however, this was not the case, no matter how poisonous and blunt were those curses, hurled upon Persians like a shower of stones and arrows.

    Inspired by the presence of their beloved general, the soldiers began the work and after seven days, as expected, the way inside was paved for Cyrus and his troops. Riding alonside with him there were worthy allies, Gobryas and Gadatas, two Babylonian nobles who had aligned themselves with the Persians since the very beginning of this conflict, both of them driven by hatred towards their king. Gobryas was seeking to revenge his murdered son while the latter was attemptimg to wash away the shame of being transformed into an eunuch, only because of envy.

    "Gobryas, Gadatas! Take four cavalry squadrons each and head towards the Hanging Gardens. Me and my forces will try to unlock the city gates. Kill anyone who dares to stand in your way, but only those who will appear before you holding a weapon. Spare the civilians as much as possible, it's the Babylonian who are are after, not them. My friends, the tyrant's downfall has arrived and his fate is yours to be decided upon. Now hurry!" ordered Cyrus.

    After one hour, during which all sorts of frightening screams could be heard, Cyrus and his troops were standing in front of the Hanging Gardens, a symbol of Babylon, built only decades earlier. A rug of corpses and severely wounded soldiers adorned its huge courtyard. At the sight of their general, two heavily armored commanders dismounted and prostrated before Cyrus.

    "He is dead, sire! The king is dead! The mercenaries fled after the first clash. We stormed the place, found him and slayed him and all of his followers. There is no one left alive inside the Gardens. We are avenged, milord!" said Gobryas, overwhelmed with emotions.

    "The gods have listened to your grievances and avenged you, honorable nobles. Go and proclaim his death across the city. The inhabitants must know that his execution was the last act in this war against tyranny and injustice. A new age has dawned for Babylon!"

    Entrant 2 - Tim1988
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    They were the enemy, outsiders trespassing on our ancestors' land. They had no place here, defiling our soil with their language and culture. They considered us as barbarians, yet it was them that committed wanton acts of murder and destruction in an attempt to spread their culture around the world. Their arrogance is immense. How can they consider themselves the greatest Empire on Earth, when, as far as Empires go, they are little more than a toddler. Our ancestors were once the most advanced civilisation that the world had seen, owning lands as far as the eye could see, whilst Rome was nothing more than a cross roads, used by salt traders. No, they are not invincible, they are not all powerful, they can be stopped.

    Our arrows streaked overhead as we charged, a mass of horsemen intent on driving the invaders back. Ahead, the Romans crouched behind their large shields, but no matter how hard they tried, arrows still found their way through. Their lines rippled as the arrows struck home, the force of the impacts bashing the shields back, so that the sun glinted off the bronze shield-bosses at different angles, flashing light in different directions. We could see them begin to panic as we neared. Few attempted to throw their pila, instead they preferred to hide behind their shields rather than expose themselves to our arrows. We arrived at them almost intact, the force of the charge sending men flying through the air, to crash into their comrades behind them. Some where lifted right off the ground, impaled on the points of our long spears as we whooped and yelled with glee.

    The charge was over in minutes. What was left of the Romans fled, running back to their camp, shedding weapons and armour in an attempt to lighten their load, but instead just making themselves even more vulnerable to our arrows and lances. The fools. It became a sport now. Our cavalry ran down the fleeing soldiers with ease, chasing them until the mounts foamed at the mouth. This would teach them a lesson. May no Roman trespass on our lands again, or they will meet the same fate as the thousands that died here.

    Entrant 3 - Katsumoto
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    My heart is a thunderstorm. Lips, dry as the desert. Sweat sweeps down the innards of my legs and the small of my back. My eyes are glazed, my vision blurred. I hear nothing but the strained breaths of my chest. Blood shoots like lighting through my body, striking the core of my being like a bolt hurled from Zeus Himself. I am alive.

    Through it all I have come. Yet still, I live. I stand, even. Pock-marked and gore-encrusted, I stand. Scores of minor lacerations and wounds cover my beaten body, filthy from the dust and dirt that swept through the field during the melee. Yet no sword or spear or arrow has struck my heart or other vital organ. I cannot believe it: I am alive.

    My spear drops to the turf as my fingers finally unravel, prised into a fist from the firm clutch I had upon the shaft. My shield still stands high at port, held fixed as though I am again in the battle line, awaiting the foe. I have managed somehow to pull my helm up from my face, though I do not recall doing so; it sits perched upon my crown, stained with the dried blood of my victims.

    I tremble. I embrace the shakes, as I always do. I let them take my bones and tendons, so all tension may flee my limbs. I enjoy them; they will take me back to the land of the living.

    I notice now the men milling about me, scouring the field for their dead and wounded comrades, whilst others plunder the corpses of the enemy, searching for some lucky pendant or prize to sell later in the markets of the city. I have not the energy nor the will to do the same.

    Someone speaks to me, dabbing me on the shoulder with some cheery wisecrack. I cannot decipher the words, for my hearing has not yet returned; my ears still ring from the clash of bronze and screams and shouts of the battling lines. I stand, gaping at the fellow with an exhausted expression. He moves on swiftly, on to praise and congratulate the other comrades who made it through this day and found victory in it. I still stand, worn and beaten.

    Broken bodies fill my sight. Chests, torn through with spears; throats, sliced open with blades; guts, ripped open with lances. I see a head, sheared clean at the neck, spilling blood and bone-marrow clear as day upon the light dirt. I retch violently.

    I draw up. Once more I gape over the field, from the clusters of survivors and victors, to the wildly-strewn corpses of foe and friend, for there are many of them too. I turn away: they are dead; I am not.

    And so ends the bloody business of the day.

    Entrant 4 - mrcrusty
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Seeing is believing.

    This desert is cursed. Yet I am given no choice, I cannot flee. I am Roman.

    Tomorrow, we engage battle with Parthian barbarians. Many of us will die. My soldiers, friends and brothers. The Parthians. They will suffer as we will too. I sit here at camp, knowing my fate, knowing our fate. I pull out of my pocket, an envelope from my wife. There is a letter inside, simply marked "A gift for the time we spent together. Never trust what you see." The envelope also contains a small piece of rotting fish. I take a bite from it, but spit most of it out. It tastes terrible. At least she tried, she knows I love fish.

    I lie down, my eyes slowly close, resigned to the doom that is sure to come tomorrow.

    ..........................................................


    My eyes slowly open, I am still tired, but it is first light and I must prepare for the battle.

    "Cornutus, get over here!" calls one of the officers. I do not recognise him, though I should. He has a distinctively large forehead.

    "I'm coming, Fronto!" I shout back and immediately do a double take. He looks at me, on the verge of fury. I muster all the willpower I can and look back at him, meeting his stare with one of my own. As I focus on the details of his face, I see that he didn't have a large forehead at all. It must be fatigue playing with my mind.

    "Sorry, " I say to him. He accepts the apology, we are soldiers after all.

    As I walk with him, over the lush terrain of the forest, into the shadow of the giant oak trees, I wonder when we will march out to face the Parthians.

    "Now. We are organising into marching formation in a few minutes." He says.

    "I didn't realise I had spoken aloud." I reply. Taking another look at the officer whose name slips escapes me, I see that that his ears are actually quite large and floppy. Like an Elephant's. I think better of mentioning Hannibal's monsters here though. I look around and see that the camps are emptying out. Yet I don't see pack animals and men getting ready to march. The camps are just... empty.

    Where is everybody?

    ..........................................................


    I look to the left and right, and I'm the only one here. Did I pass out? Even the floppy eared officer is gone. As I keep moving forward, looking for the camp, or the Parthians, I feel a sudden chill. It is very cold.

    Not surprising, I can see snow on the mountains off in the distance. I can literally see the wind and the breeze push against me. I struggle to move forward, but I must find the Legion and take my place among their ranks.

    ..........................................................


    I start to perspire.

    How many hours has it been since I last saw someone?

    It is difficult to keep moving on these empty plains of rolling hills and abundant farmland. Especially when you know not where your friends and foes are.

    As I sit down, exhausted from my travel, I see in the distance... something.

    ..........................................................


    Centaur? No... could it really be?

    But my eyes do not deceive me, I can clearly see a Centaur, Centaurs in the distance!

    I need to catch a better glimpse of these creatures. My mind is in shock, and I am in awe. They are majestic, just like the tales describe them. I admit, I only felt that they were legend that the Greeks made up, but they are real! Gods sustain me! Centaurs are real!

    I run, sprinting now, my armour is heavy, it's dragging me down. I keep moving forward.
    My head-dress is making me lose my balance. I keep moving forward.
    There are a herd of Centaurs so close, there are no longer in the distance any longer. I keep moving forward.

    My bruised, dirty and sweating body collapses in heap. I look up, in the glistening sunlight, I can see the Centaur herd. Oh Gods, one of them is approaching me.

    I smile at it, and it smiles back!

    Oh, how wonderful to see and experience something that dreams are made of.

    AARGH!!

    I scream with my entire being, looking faintly at the Centaur. In his hand is a snake. A long snake. It's outstretched and has bitten into me deeply. I can see the Centaur, still smiling at me. There are no smiles from me. Only blood, and tears.

    Why?

    I fall to the ground, lying perfectly still. My breaths. They are... becoming laboured. I find it hard... to form my own... thoughts...

    The forest around me grows dim... I close my eyes...

    I open my eyes, I'm in the rolling hills.... now... growing dark.... I close my eyes...

    I open my eyes again... cold... so cold.... I close my eyes...

    My eyes open again... I look across.... the desert plains...

    I see a shallo... w grave.
    I see sand, always moving.
    I see it swallow... ing men whole, robbing them of ev... erything.
    I see pestile....nce... in the air. Flies, mo... squitoes and vu... ltures feed on the remains of men... and animal alike.
    I see death.

    Suddenly my wife's words come back to me "Never trust what you see".

    I laughed, as more blood splurged from my mouth.
    All of it and none of it seemed to make sense all at once.
    I coughed again and closed my eyes once more.

    For the final time.

    "Sarpa Salpa".



    TotW 93a – Sanity is Overrated
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Winner - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Madness

    Have you seen it? Have you felt it? Have you tasted it? Would you embrace it? Do you hear it? Knocking at the door of your brain cortex. Can you feel it?

    That my dear, is the sound of the hound of madness climbing the walls and perforating the layers that separate us from our Reptilian complex, trying to open the door where our nightmares breed and howl.

    Can you hear that scratch? That’s the claws of schizophrenia tearing your falx cerebralis in two. Do you feel it? How does it feel to lose grasp of your mind? Feeling numb yet?

    Are you still following what I say? Or has that depressive demon taken hold of your Broca´s brain?

    See that blue dot? You can´t? Have “they” gotten so deep so far? Have you lost your eyes? They were never there my dear, you are losing the grip on things.

    Can you feel it, prying it´s icy fingers into your hypoccampus? Can you see your memories being twisted and washed away into a drift of nothingness? Isn´t it liberating? Nothing to remember, nothing to fear, nothing to cry over….

    Aren´t you free yet? Let´s go deeper… into your most private fantasies and illusions. Have the neuroblockers cancelled out your synapses yet? Can you still think? Are you still here, with “us”?

    Come, let us go now, right into your thalamus, right into where your personality lies dormant, what´s that? You don’t want to go? What do you mean? We´ll always be here with you, you´ll never be alone.

    If you don’t want to stay here, why don’t you come with us?

    Come, you´ll like it over there, come, slip away from your last conscious thoughts, ready to let go?

    Come, into the land where everyone is free and everything is possible.

    Entrant 1 - MorganH.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    September,in the year of our Lord 83.
    Its a cold and chilling dark late afternoon in the outstretched and boggy fields of North eastern Caledonia;"The Edge of the World" as the Romans called it.
    A few hours ago,the assembled massive army of Calgacus,the leader warlord of the Caledonians;"The Noblest of all Britain",had been mercilessly and decisively beaten by the invading Roman army under the new governor of Britain;Agricola,at the bottom of the Mount Graupius.
    Shrieks of terror and pain were penetrating the sunless skies as the Roman Batavian cavalry were savagely pursuing the survivors of the Battle.
    "The Romans are comming,the Romans are comming","run for your lives" shouts a young surviving warrior when he advances his now allmost deserted settlement.
    The surrounding fields are littered with the corpses of men,women and children.
    Roundhouses are burning and livestock has been slaughtered were they stood.
    Clouds of dust and swarming birds betray were the Roman cavalry are hunting down the runaway survivors amidst the nearby forrests and open fields.
    With no pressing reasons to search the settlement,as his father and brother were struck down and killed right next to him in the battle line a few hours ago,the desperate young man now decides to run in the oposite direction towards the coast.
    Not hindered by friend or foe,the desperate warrior reaches the coast where he drops to his knees.
    Looking out over the vast and mighty North Seas,he thinks of distant shores and far away lands,lands where he might be welcomed and maybe could live a free life,free of Roman oppression and terror.
    He closes his eyes and lets his tears run free.
    Suddenly a metallic sound behind his back brings him back to reality,but its allready too late and he realises it at once.
    Staying motionless and opening his eyes again,looking out over the endless horizon,he awaits the striking blow....and then it went Dark ....

    Entrant 2 - Maximinus Thrax
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Solmyr's mind, the mad crown prince of Bracada, is slowly rotting on this secluded island for three weeks now... Cornered by everyone else and broken-hearted, his father the king had finally submitted to the vizier's wish and banished his sole heir on this wretched island, in an attempt to avoid complete depletion of the kingdom's treasury. Indeed, the ancient art of alchemy is an expensive hobby to maintain. So far, the prince's most successful attempt had been to transmute his father's gold into others' fortune... A dabbler in alchemy himself while a youth, Zahir would have swapped places with his son without a second thought. But it's too late now...

    It's morning and the prince is sitting on the shore, performing his daily ritual. He's staring as usual at the closest island, some twenty miles away. The lengthy distance or the fact that he's all alone in the middle of nowhere doesn't seem to bother him... Deep inside his troubled mind he has already conceived a plan to cross the vast amounts of waters, attempting to reach the nearest island, a possible way back to his gilded high tower.

    The sun it's at the highest point in the sky... For the first time in a week, Solmyr is smiling at the thought that he'll soon return to his Great Work. After taking a walk back and forth for a while along the northern shoreline, he suddenly stops and tries to gaze at the sun for a moment, putting his left hand above the eyes. The sun... A symbol of life, yet for Solmyr it's a symbol of the sages. Retired for months deep inside his tower, the prince hadn't seen the sun for quite a while before the unfortunate relocation.

    "Pffftt... Alim the vizier... What a dumb and ignorant sack of bones!... Thinking he could detain me on this island. The old fool believed I would ruin my father's finances but he doesn't know that I've already discovered the secret of the ancients... Isn't it Hassam?"

    Solmyr looks on his right side where Hassam, his trusted acolyte, should have been. By now poor Hassam is feeding the worms in some unmarked grave on the outskirts of El-Arakoum, the jewel of the Southern Desert.

    "Laugh Hassam, laugh! We will laugh even louder when I'll return to my father's palace! I would exchange on the spot all my gold, all my acumulated knowledge to see Alim's horrified expression when entering the throne room, cheered by tens of thousands!"

    It isn't a laughing hyena stranded on a deserted island... It is Solmyr's sinister and maddening laughter echoing among the nearby cliffs.

    "Hassam... Are all the workers ready? Tell them to excavate the gold I've hidden on this very island, beneath the sand. I't everywhere, they can't miss it. Can you see the irony, Hassam? Can you, old friend? Alim the Pathetic has placed us exactly where I hoarded tons of gold as a result of my successful experiments! Hahahahaha! Tommorrow we shall begin to construct a golden bridge up to that island over there... I'll save some gold to cast Alim into a golden statue. He shall adorn the palace's courtyard from then on!"

    Rubbing his hands with joy, Solmyr calls the name of another servant, Arhouz the falconer...

    "Arhouz! Arhouz! Gather the hawks at once and try to deliver a decent meal just for once! My stomach has had enough of these stinking fishes! Some pidgeons or some pheasants would be most welcomed, Arhouz! Can you hear me? Prepare the food and bring it to my tent!"

    The sun has set over our island... Exiting from his imaginary tent, Solmyr takes another late walk before going to sleep, all dressed-up in silk garments, the only remaining sign that he was once regarded as royalty. The mad prince needs a good rest since tommorrow he will be extremely busy...

    Somewhat exausted but happy, Solmyr falls asleep near the camp fire. Little does he know that a small boat has just landed on the southern shore. A deadly and silent messenger of Alim is approaching the unaware prince...

    Entrant 3 - webMaster412160
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Impression of faith


    It is the year 1145 AD his holiness the pope has condemned Denmark a country of blasphemy! Denmark is looting its fellow Christians, rebellion terrors the country land that has been looted and raided. King Dyke of Denmark has ignored the pope and is on the path of chaos and blood. So his holiness the pope Bentius VII tell us from Rome. But no the pope fears his last treaty singed with the country gave Denmark the right to plunder its neighbors. But there where some who offered resistance. 2 years long King Dyke had been able to loot and plunder in his wake, without any party stopping him. He had forged a empire out of a kingdom. But in the year 1147 AD in Autumn, January the 5th his luck was about to be tested.

    His son Relg was given command over all the legions up north, and south. While King Dyke marched with an army of 10 000 men to re-take some lands fallen into the hands of thieves and hordes of nomads.

    King Dyke: There it lies, see the small village, the key point to the river of the capital. If we stop the stream here, the river the city inhabitants will die.
    General Kier: You forgot sire there is an 8 220 people strong army waiting to fight for that spot. Angry and eager they are. (look up to the sun, witch is shinning on his armor.)
    King Dyke: I do not fear my enemy, we will march and attack. In formation!

    Dyke had the feeling of being over powerful. But that didn't last for much longer. 1 year ago his holiness the pope held a secret meeting witch aimed to over trow Dyke and replace him with someone else for the "greater good" it was said then. As an excuse to actually mean stop one man from uniting Europe.

    1 year ago ...

    The pope wrote the son of Dyke to committed treason for the great good of Europe, and its interests as a Christian community. The Heir Mark didn't respond. Instead reported this to his father. In response Dyke left his siege of a important city and marched with an army of 6 000 men to wards Rome. To pay the holiness the pope a kind but urgent visit. He made a compromise with the holy roman empire. He would not raid or attack the regions of the HRE for 2 years long. If he would be granted access to march through there empire to Italy and thus to Rome.

    The pope got right what he wanted, they had fallen for his sneaky little plan. Now Dyke was on the march, they (the united European forces) UEF as they called them self on there flag, would out flank them and attack them in the mountain region. Where it snows and is cold. After a week of following Dyke's army it came to a battle between the UEF and the denish forces. It was bloody and nobody really won that day. But the pope know Dyke had to fall back after his army being almost destroyed. And on the way back had put a backup force consisting of 2000 Swedish pike men. Dyke seemed to be doomed, or could he make it out ? ... 'end of story'


    Entrant 4 - Tim1988
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    To my dearest wife, whom I love more than life itself,

    I am writing this letter as I watch the sun set over distant lands, far from home and all of the happy memories that accompany it. It is so peaceful here, as I sit and listen to the waves lapping gently against the hull of the boat, creating a rythmic beat that lulls the mind towards sleep. You would love it here I am sure, for it is undoubtedly the most beautiful place on earth. In a few hours it will be dark, and then we can lay out on the warm wood of the deck and watch the stars glittering in the sky, like hundreds of angels as they sit in heaven. I miss you so much, if only you could be here with me to witness it and fall asleep in my arms once again.

    We have made good speed on our journey so far, and are due to make landfall in Cairo in the next couple of days according to our Captain. I do not know where we go from there, but pray that we will return home soon so that I can see you and young Karim. He must be so big now, and it pains me that I will miss so much of him growing up. Make sure that you tell him how much I love him every night as he goes to bed, so that he does not think that I have abandoned him, for I will return to you.

    You occupy my thoughts the whole time, and it is the thought of you that keeps me going when times get hard, and the seas get rough. I only hope that these memories will once more form reality soon, as I have been away far too long already.

    Remember me always, as I think of you,

    Your dearest and most loving husband,

    Hassan

    Entrant 5 - MuttonChops
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    The Poor Knight
    ------

    ------
    Our tale begins in the lands of our ancestors...
    Once upon a time, in a world not different from ours, came a Knight of noble blood, bearing the flag of a distant land. Traversing the lands that we now know, without fear or malice. His luminous armor brought awe of all that gazed upon it, while his sword whose size cannot be matched brought fear to all who met its tempered edge. With noble stride, and humble strength he walked the dirt roads of our realm without a steed or squire, garnering the affection of the people who affectionately dubbed him the Poor Knight. Now this Knight whose life we know not, fought banditry wherever it appeared. Rarely speaking or resting, none knew of his appearance or race, but it did not matter for all he saved, lived. Mysterious as he may have been, his greatest challenge appeared in the form of an evil warrior, whose strength mirrored that of our hero. From a distant shore he came bearing a similar foreign banner, but wherever he went he graciously administered death and destruction in equal portions.
    ------
    With fear in their hearts, the people appealed to the Poor Knight for aid. "O save us from death ye warrior of mercy", they said. But the Poor Knight did not listen, again they said "O please save us from death ye warrior of mercy". Yet again he refused. Gold poured from every corner of the realm to persuade the Knight to help, but he time and time again refused. How can a Knight whose countenance so far had been to help us, change so quickly, the people wondered. The Knight whose speech thus far had been limited finally spoke, "I cannot be everywhere, you must all learn to defend yourselves, for the realm is finite I am not, but I will fight this last battle so that you may know peace."
    ------
    And so marched he towards his foe. Its result, cannot be justified in words, for only those who saw it can truly express its glory.
    And thus our tale ends here.

    Entrant 6 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    When the box is empty


    When the box is empty, the devil jumps out. He has sharp fangs, bad teeth, and makes me surly enough to shout...."You...Take your empty box and get the #$%& out!!!!"

    Now don't get me wrong, cuz some of the nicest people I know all smoke {like chimmineys...btw.} We all have habits, this one just happens to be there's. During the course of an average day I see alot of stress around me, so consequently I'm never far from folks that smoke. A six dollar a day habit is mild as some addictions go, but it's not mild if there's not six dollars in sight to fed it.

    Under Construction


    TotW 94a – Autumn is Fall
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    Winner - Eazyrider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Armies are not broken in summer. And neither are they broken in spring. No, armies break at autumn. When the leaves color brown and the pumpkins grow; when the sun falls faster and the moon’s reign lingers; when the birds take to the sky in their thousands and animals prepare for the crude clutches of winter on the horizon. During fall armies are broken.


    Autumn marks the end of the season for war; as spring marks its birth. Leaders and soldiers alike, tire away through the summer to the point, at fall, desperation, frustration and anguish sets in. The prospect of an idle winter knowing that there is an enemy waiting to be defeated instigates men to commit to rash deeds; A desperate lash out.

    The brown earth was stained red. The sepia leaves flecked with scarlet. And the sunny sky blackened in turbulence. Men fought men in bitter battle.



    Lifting his shield he parried another sword strike, the force of the blow leaving his arm numbed. He executed the counter attack as planned, slicing through skin and bone. He was tired, and his body cried out in agony, pleading for rest, but his mind would not let him. It worked tirelessly at keeping him alive; it raced calculating everything at breakneck speed. He was powered by adrenaline; an animal instinct.



    Parry, side step, thrust. The horse neighed, in a paroxysm. Parry, side step, thrust. Breaking through the chainmail the rider died. He had never known such a basic sword form to be so effective; the first drill to be taught, he had initially considered it futile yet now in the midst of a bloody press of swarming enemy it was a proficient tool in killing. Parry, side step, thrust.


    The sky roared in defiance at the despoiling of the land. Clouds collided resulting in a catastrophic explosion of lightning, illuminating the dark sky in short flashes. The bolts reached down in an attempt to quell the unrest. They were fingers pointing to the grave.


    Parry, side step, thrust. Parry, side step—he tripped, his feet fumbling over the lifeless body of another. He came crashing down into the earth, just as another bolt cracked into the air. He had lost his momentum, the adrenaline faded. His muscles immediately tensed and cramped, his body paralyzed. Tiredness swept over him like a wave. Pain shot through him like the bolts that threatened to tear the sky. Yet his mind still raced, even more with the new sensations. It still took in everything: the reared horse ready to ground its hooves into his skull, the cries of dying men around him, the smell of singed grass and rotting carcass, the whip crack of lightning reaching for him. Blackness.




    Autumn is a prelude to the dead season. Autumn is the death of life. Autumn is fall.



    By Yannik



    Entrant 1 - Julius Barca the Great
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    This will be a story for my descendants. This would be a tale for my grandshildren. Should I survive this, I shall write of it. This, the monumental, epochal event of my generation. A true clash of Titans.

    And what else could it be? They came to us with their iron and steel. They threatened us with their catapults and their forts. And here we stood, men of Greece, men of the land, holding naught but bronze and wood. This battle, this conflict of giants, would determine the fate of the world. Hoplite against Legionary. Phalanx against Legion. Greece against Rome. Titan against Titan.

    For three days a stalemate held our armies captive. Across this sea of grass, thousands of men tested the worth of their opposites. None was found wanting.
    Now, after what seemed an age and a half, our leaders ordered the march. The solid thump of battle formations calmed every man in the phalanx. We marched, ready to show these invaders that a man of courage and duty defeats a man of iron and discipline.

    The lines crashed. And what a crash it was. I doubt Zeus himself, with all of his lightening and thunder, could have matched our noise that day. Men screamed, men cheered, men fell, men died. Truly, there has never been so epic a contest.

    My heart soars with pride as I knock a Legionary on his back and dispatch the poor soul with my blade. Nothing can stop me.

    The thundering grows louder. A cavalry charge. A cowardly tactic designed to break lesser men. But not us. Not the sons of Achilles. Today, we stand. The horses are gutted, the men likewise. A rider uses his mount to force me away from my comrades. I soon find myself surrounded by a wave of red and silver and gold. I smile.

    So much for the grandchildren. My deeds will instead be lost to history, my victory forgotten forever. The horse falls before me. The rider looks me in the eyes, pleading. I ensure the last thing he sees is a Greek, eyes intent on victory, on glory. Even as their blades enter my flesh from all directions, I know who the victor will be. For even in a Clash of Titans, their is a loser. And today, that loser will not hail from Greece.

    Entrant 2 - Spartan262
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    On this cold October morning in 1777 a group of Continental regulars intend to ambush a Readcoat Column passing through South Carolina on there way North to New York. As the column passed through the area intended for the ambush the Continental Leader ordered the men to wait till' the middle of the column passed through. Not to long afterward the order to charge began. The patriots sent a volley into the passing redcoats before charging into the dazed British troops. The Melee that insued was some of the most violent experianced by these brave American Volunteers. It was a back and forth afair, one moment the patriots had the upper hand , next the British. After all was done the Brits fled into a nearby forrest to escape the assault of the Americans. The wounded were carried back to camp and the dead buried with honor. For the Americans, the night would be filled with celebration and glee, for the Redcoats a night of anguish and heart-ache for the lost.

    Entrant 3 - Frederich Barbarossa
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    There and back again

    This tale, tell not of happiness or pride; of the least any contemplation of that happiness or pride. I shall gift you a dreary handkerchief, for it may hold your remorse towards reading this epic novel. War is often a contemplation of action and battles, yet it is not foreseen as much worst than depicted. The reality is that it is much more severe, and just shows the dark interior of the human heart; filled with maliciousness and greed. A young man of the local peasantry would soon come to be infused into the war of greed and corruption, only being directed towards either death, or depression. It was a long forgotten battle in which he partook in, only to believe that what he was doing, was serving his country. The sound of depravity rung throughout the landscape, only filling mens hearts with even greater horrors of remorse. He was indeed one of those poorly taken human beings. His band of quaffing orangutan soldiers marched towards the hill, at a very steady pace.

    The young man thought to him self. "What if all this is nothing? What if this war is nothing?"
    "Should I be alarmed and run; for I have not been struck down yet."
    He kept his pace and just thought of it all for a second. What was he really fighting for? The only thing that distinguished man from each other, was that which he carried on his back. Was that really the fatality, into which he would bear for the rest of his life?

    No man had been harmed! A sense of relieve was being struck upon the common soldiery. They were all treating it as if it were a game, conversing and laughing while they march. They continue forward; the novice regiment. Then when they reached the marker; a thousand tiny pieces of nitre flung upon them. A barrage of yells, horrifically loud, stretched upon the front line. At least fifty soldiers had fallen, and much to the cost of their legs. The young peasant looked beside him and only saw a young man scuffle with his arm. Blood was slowly spraying out towards the mans eyes; his vision being blinded by that of his own body. The boy stopped to help steadfast. A scream pierced through the atmosphere and had landed directly onto the boy. The Posh-like Officers told the boy to continue under order!

    The kid turned away from assisting this blind man, who had been covered in retched gore and surrounded by malevolence. The man cried out to his mother repeatedly, and repeatedly got no response. Soldiers were sprinting amongst his dieing body, as if he were not there. He was alone. Nobody, not even his friends, saved him; only to protect their own skins. He died a horrible death, that was not even describable. He lay there crying the last pieces of his life. He lay alone, in the middle of that grassy field; only to be forgotten in time and never re payed.

    The boy was in a stage of dotage. He kept pushing along with his friends, while each of them fell flat on the floor; as dead as a rock. He continued, breathing quite heavily. He was amongst the last survivors charging up. Above, a frightful line of Artillery began shelling upon his position. The cannons being loaded with haste, shown by the sweaty features of the artillerymen. He stood there, just looking. The boys arm began to literally shake and soon off it was his leg. He fell to the blooded ground only to find a human eyeball on the floor. A great shriek was heard, yet the artillerymen did ignore it. His life was over. He was only a seventeen year old boy, who never was able to love; to live; to have a family; to have an actual life. He was shot multiple times. His small fragile head was decapitated, and massive chunks of meat were found scattered amongst his torso. What is war?

    For evermore he would only be there, but never back again...

    Entrant 4 - MorganH.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Father,father,where are you going ? shouted the little girl when she saw her father leave with the horse drawn cart that was fully loaded with dozens of long wooden stakes.

    "Oh i have some business to attend to;earn some coins for us so we can buy some food and clothes now the winter is nearing my little darling" said the man.

    "But you promised we would all stay at home and make a fire,bake some bread and stay together" she cried out.
    I know darling,but i have to deliver my load first at the city gates, and then ill return as soon as i can to be with you and your mother and brother.

    "Can i come please" ? said the girl;"il promise i wont leave from your side father".
    The man took a deep breath,sighed and said;alright,you can come, but listen exactly to what i tell you,ok?
    "Of course father" she said and she climbed onto the cart and set herself right next to him.

    The trip took about half an hour, but they hardly spoke as her father seemed to be elsewhere with his thoughts as he didnt respond to any of here remarks or questions.

    Finally they reached the sinister looking walls of the great city and headed for the nearest gate,which was crowded with soldiers,merchants and travellers who either wanted to enter or leave.

    A big evil looking soldier in black armour approached the cart and adressed her father;"what took you so long" ? he said.
    "We are in desperate need of your cargo and you know our Lord doesnt like to be kept waiting"!

    "Im terribly sorry" said the man and he lept from the cart and immediately started unloading the stakes.
    The girl stayed on the drivers bench as her father had commanded her,and she looked nervously around;she saw wooden tables,oxes,many piles of rope and above all a lot of grim looking soldiers who were piling hundreds and hundreds of stakes just like the ones here father was unloading.

    When the last stakes had been unloaded,the big soldier who had adressed her father gave him a handfull of coins and told them to be on their way again.

    Nervously the man took the reins again, and turned the cart back towards the direction they had came from.

    "What are those men going to do with those stakes father"? the girl asked.
    I dont know,but its none of our business anyway, he replied,"We are going home now ,and we are not going to look back you hear me"? he said.

    He put his arm around her, and told her he loved her as they rode back into the woods towards their tiny cabin that they called home.

    And as the man and his daughter rode quietly into the forrest,his eyes full of tears,thinking of his beloved family,he quietly prayed for forgiveness from his lord Jesus Christ.

    And some miles behind them,in front of the great walls of Targoviste,were they had unloaded the cart only minutes ago,the first stake went up,a stake slippery with entrails and human flesh,and the Great Horror had finally begun.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    TotW 95a - Looking into the Future
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    Winner - Eazyrider
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    1438 Germany
    ‘Do you see it? Can you visualize it? Can’t you feel it?!’ He had gone into an ardent fervor, spittle flying from the tip of his lips. ‘It is the future! It’s our future! We can make it. We can shape it!’ His eyes gleamed with fanatical devotion. ‘I ask you but one thing sir; just think of its potential! We will control the masses, shape the land and advance the human race as we know it!’

    I looked at him: who was this man? Hair splayed carelessly over his crumpled clothing; he looked pathetic, feeble and crazy. His eyes were inflamed with the fever that gripped him, convulsing with enthusiasm; but? To what extent of power could this notion entail? I had always told myself that there was a fine line between genius and crazy; which side had he stepped on?

    He rushed to the window, pulling the curtains aside, he revealed a breathtaking view: the city sprawled across the landscape like a jigsaw puzzle, the sun spilling its golden rays over the horizon and the birds absorbed in full song flitting from tree to tree. ‘Think of how the world and we could benefit from this. This would revolutionize everything! Just think of the potential! Look into the future!’


    I closed my eyes. His fervor was there beneath the darkness; it had infected me. I reached for it to fill me, I wanted to see what he could see. I wanted to look into the future. But the present was always there and looming, stopping me from travelling to the future. The troubles of my time were the barricade, and the glory of the future was my stimulant. I leaped.


    I could see it now: behind closed eyes I tried to visualize, tried to materialize the enormity of the prospect. He had moved me. I saw it. There would be no more illiterate, inventions would be universal, knowledge would spread like wildfire for all of humanity to benefit from, and, above all, the world would have them to thank. And in that image of splendor I was lost; the future had captured me, I had looked and saw what was to come.

    He sensed the change, and the fervor mellowed immediately. Putting his arm around me he led me towards the balcony. He spoke softly, almost placating, ‘We can do this Andreas. Let us set to work.’ I nodded my head slowly, my brain still rapt in the image of the future, my future.

    And so following an afternoon of looking into the future we set to making that future. Building it; shaping it. I would fund Johannes Gutenberg, and in return: he would create for us the printing press.


    The future beckoned.



    NOTE: Johannes Gutenberg invented the first commercial printing press which indeed revolutionized the world we live in today, for an unnumbered number of reasons. Andreas Dritzehn funded his initial experiments. This is not supposed to be historically accurate or even historical relevant at times.


    By Yannik.









    Entrant 1 - Frederich Barbarossa
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    TRIUMPH OF THE WILL

    Joy! Benevolent joy! The streets had risen from ruin! The town folk were muttering their words to the soldiers marching toward the hauptbahnhof, keeping in step, in such a sublime and intangible alignment. That being of a Utopian parade in one of the most scorched areas of the world. The town folk had such jubilant faces on, that it even made the regimental Captain smirk. The sheer abundance of crowds flabbergasted foreign diplomats, as they had their ears mutilated by the allotment of chanting. The regimental Captain gave the order, "MARSCH!"'; a whole band of troops began to march towards the other hub of troops. Each group was marching towards each other in such nationalistic and prideful manners. A loud shriek was heard from the distance, "HALT!" The regiments stopped at the exact moment and the shouting began to fade while a short reticence gave in. A shadowy figure besieged the podium, grasping the wooden top with an iron grip. He gave a short but fiery speech about the oppression of his people, and the future of the peoples land. Sweat poured down his face as he unleashed waves of utter diplomacy and mockery at the imperialistic households of Europe. The men of the west were all but humiliated with this. The Corporal of the Guard called for dress right dress and then scouted the front ranks for perfection and paragon. The band was ready. As the fiery figurehead made a descent on the stairs of the central square, a loud uproar was heard yet again. Hundreds of thousands of spectators and followers rallied together to cry out their leaders name, with utmost passion. Small children cried, what seemed to be their worries away; Elderly folk stood their with giant smiles on their faces; the Youth, at which the country was built upon was waving their arms in the air, proud to say that this man was their leader.

    He made his way to a car at the side of a street. A silence was heard yet again. This time an escalating vibration on the ground was heard, being that it grew louder and louder by the second. It was an uproar marching towards the leader, representing all that power and volume that he had mustered to have of the utmost obedience. His grim face grew even more serious, as his eyebrows began to touch one another. His soft hair was combed to the side, and his fiery grey eyes spoke out optimism to the crowd; he was the one who they thought would bring them to utmost superiority amongst the nations. It was all like a mere reverie, as to such a magnitude of people that was partaking, as if it were a whole country crowded into one small city. The old architecture reflected the message brought forth from the parade beautifully and girls would throw flowers to the encouraged soldiers below; yet still there was no babble of any sort.

    The step of soldiers could now be heard, and they had approached nearer and nearer only sending the obvious message of superiority; that they had been given the God right task to civilize the planet and extinguish it from savagery and depravity. The trumpets sharply swung into the air and the sound of the first musical notes riveted the whole crowd. A familiar song was harmonized amongst the bustling city block. Soldiers as well as townsfolk began to follow along:

    Mir san die lustigen Holzhackerbuam
    hollereieiho hollereieiho
    Wir fallen das Holz und jodeln dazua
    hollereieiho ritireieiro
    Und Kommt ein lustiges Maderl daher
    hollereieiho hollereieiho
    Dann Kriagt sie a busserl was will sie noch mehr
    hollereieiho ritireieiro


    The screams of man pierced even through the fatally wounded heart of society. An uprising had begun indeed, followed by an eternal war in which most of Europe would greatly suffer. It was all merely about how one man gained the will to rise up against his predecessor and spearheaded a movement which would fatally uphold the triumph of the will...

    Entrant 2 - 'Gunny
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    My dearest Lucie,
    You know now that I am in Russia, a damnable land if there ever was one. The peasants are constantly sick, and despise us as conquerers rather than liberators. The interminable forest constantly gives birth to great hordes of cossacks that vanish as quickly as they appear. The worst part is that we have yet to fight! While occasionaly we have the chance to cut some poor cossack to ribbons, and a deserting soldier or two, the Tsar has made his troops vanish. They elude us, they run from us, but how long can this last? Already a chill sweeps down among us at night, carried from somewhere in the distant reaches of this land. I fear for the worst, Napoleon will continue to follow them until he gets his battle. Though his heart years to dine in Moscow, it also pains for a fight. But when he gets his fight, where will it be? In the coldest reaches of Arkhangelsk? Or even Siberia? It is a fools gamble, and I hope he turns to Moscow. I hear riumors of an impending battle, we near Borodino, though this will likely be like our last "battles" indecisive and nearly lacking in casualties. I shall continue in writing this letter tomorrow, thinking of you through the night.

    We have our battle. The Russians are encamped in Borodino, oh the joy! They may have the better positions, but they shall waver and break under our power. I shall be with Montbrun's cavalry corps, and help keep any marauding cossacks off our troops backs. It will be here that the Russian empire is destroyed, Here that republican principals will triumph over despotism. Here, at Borodino, my wife how I wish you were here, but I shall see you soon, Oh I will see you soon! I will be able to see our child, our child who shall live in an era devoid of warfare, devoid of suffering, and he shall know that his pappa created it for him, just for him. I shall send this letter as soon as possible, so that it may reach home before I, and I will be able to give you the news of our victory in person. My love, I shall see you soon.

    Forever yours, Antoine
    Entrant 3 - Solid Snake
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    Silent Rage
    Why? Why oh God why cant I get one for myself? What is the bloody point of being a walking God amongst worms when you cant have a Goddess? Why every girl I fell in love with is already taken?
    She fooled me, that…that woman fooled me, led me to believe she liked me, she was pretty, intelligent, liked football and videogames, and knew a lot about music and movies and her visits always brought a smile to my face. She played with my hair when she was behind me, she would put her hands on my face when we were sitting across each other, she would randomly hug me in a tight embrace.

    Perfect she was.
    We went to grab a bite near the school, we would go back to my domains so I could teach her he science of the human body, we would laugh, tease each other, flirt with one another.
    She smiled while she looked at me, she said my eyes were…sad, that I had a sad look on my face a longing look whenever I looked at her, she blushed.

    She fooled me, turns out she had a boyfriend, an idiot one at that, a nobody compared to whom she could have been with, I let out a tear for one second and then I put my hand through the wall and a scalpel through a corpse. You fooled, why did you fool me? Why did I make illusions about what we could have been? Why I always like the already taken girl?
    I´m not the man you can treat like that and go unpunished, I´m a dangerous man when you fool me like that, now I´m very disappointed, frustrated, go now, I´ll stay where I’ve always have been.

    “I have no mouth and I must scream.”

    Entrant 4 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
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    Pork butt, Crockpot, kitty surprise.


    Act I: The players.

    There's a bit of needed background information to be disseminated so I will just start things off with that. I have at the moment 9 kitty cats on my vast, sprawling, trailer white trash country estate.

    * Blacky {matriarch}: three years old, somewhat reserved, yet quite the attention sponge. She pretty much sticks to me like glue and when I slumber she takes up residence right above my left pectoralis major.

    Her two daughters Skitz & Whinie, they are twins, same paint spray calico fur patterns.

    * Skitz as in skitzofrenic: Skitz and Whinie's names got cris-crossed somewhere along the line, with Skitz being very vocal about everything that goes on in the house. God help you if your in the kitchen going for a sandwich, her meat radar will instantly track you, and shes "johnny on the spot" to spread the alarm.

    * Whinie cuz she whines about everything, as I said the twins names are reversed. Whinnie is now very chill about life yet she was quite skittish as a kitten.

    * Peek-a-boo, aka "Baby Boy": When he was a kitten he used to peek around corners and say "boo". He has always been and for ever will be in need of constant reassurance that he is indeed loved beyond all measure and is indeed the "only" baby in existence. In other words he's a deluxe reassurance/love sponge.

    * Hutzspa aka "Little excrement": Cuz she's got big brass ones for a kitten and is generally a pain in the .... Hutzspa very much resembles the kitty in the picture abet, chunkier. At the moment I'm not totally sure whether her girth is due to good nutrition or worms, One can only hope though. She perhaps weighs a pound or so and fits quite comfortably in the palm of your hand. Don't sell her short though, she's hell on wheels and can stand her ground and sometimes shred the 6-8 pounders.

    *Inky: Is pseudo feral, but after a number of months has allowed the inadvertent tail pull, or back pet. Of course after the fact she plays it off as though it never happened. Inky is the poster child for insecurity and submission. When the others are cranky it grieves me to she her rebuffed at every turn.

    * Maukie: Is also pseudo feral, although now he comes into the house on occasion, setting up shop in the kitchen where he feverishly takes note of all the goings on. Maukie is docile and timid but loves to play and socialize as any almost yearling tomcat does. He's been with Inky since kitten hood and looks on her as a Momma. His pelt is a luxurious slate gray with a sheen to it. Oh how I envy him especially that winter has started it's annual decent here in central Texas.

    * Hutzspa's two siblings: One is grey, the other black as moonless mid-night. They are pseudo-feral kittens, both somewhat under weight, easily engulfed by by my hand. The grey might make it, little Blacky's ribs are prominently visible and I suffer in silence but hope for the best.

    Thus ends the family genealogy flow chart, so I suppose it's high time that we get on with the story at hand....

    Act II: The setup & execution.

    Ahhh the time of famine is over as pork butt for kitties commences raining from the skies.
    What's all this taa-doo over a few measly helpings of low grade rump roast? See what you'all
    fail to grasp with all your "human acumen" is that life is flat out rough for us kitty cats. Krispies,
    krispies, and more krispies is the drudgery and mind-numbing minutia of our existence. Why we're lucky
    if the Ole bastard even rotates the kinds of dry food that we must endure. Now don't think for an
    instant that we're just being snobbish. There are lean times when even krispies do not exist. Sometimes
    during these drought Ole boy manages to cook rice and mix it with condensed chicken soup or
    an odd can of cat food grasped at out of desperation from the bowels of a kitchen cupboard where human
    fingers seldom tread. Sadly some of the contents these cans lost their "pristine" status one or two
    Christmases ago. But enough of sad times, let us speak of the bountiful feasts at hand.

    The Ole man caught wind that pork butt was falling from the sky at $1 per pound US and sprang into action like a lazershot.
    Grabbed his backpack he did, and off to market he went. Now I don't know if any of you humans are pork connoisseurs at all but
    pork butt comes in 10-14 pound chunks and you have to closely inspect each one to make sure that the top coat of fat doesn't
    doesn't exceed say half a pound. Some of these said chunks sport fat ripples in the 3-4 pound neighborhood. Yes yes, even though kitties
    are carnivores by trade no need to be giving us clogged arteries before our time. So once Ole boy selects the finest chunks,
    the adventure of carting it home, commences. Loaded down 40+ pounds in all, our benefactor fights both traffic and the anguish of
    strained muscles to bring home the prize.
    Once home, one chunk one the cutting board and the rest in the freezer. Fire up the crock pot and in goes the mana from heaven.
    For a bit of variety we permit our human to add, carrots, onions, and Irish taters in vast abound. After all, he did all the
    footwork so it's the least we could do....

    Six hours later is when the true gluttony begins. For each kitty again in vast abound... Shredded pork butt in broth with a
    tolerable smattering of dry stuff mixed in to give it legitimacy...

    Act III: The Aftermath.

    Once the dust settles from this bountiful feed, the true face of bliss makes it's appearance. Five cats laid out on the blanket covered sofa
    all in one, pitiful, clumped heap. Bloated, protruding abdomens stretched from one end of the couch to the other, gives concrete evidence as to the gluttony at hand. The purrs of collective contentment ring louder than the construction site next door. Three days of bountiful feasting does this one crock pot provide. From the fourth day on we may suffer true famine, but at least for this day and the next two to follow we have...

    Pork butt, Crockpot, kitty surprise.











  5. #25

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW Scary Story Halloween 2010
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No picture.

    Winner - Dan the Man
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    THE HORSEMEN
    It is hard to imagine the entire world ending. Especially on that glorious fall afternoon. The sun shone, the sky was blue, the trees were decked in their reds, and yellows, and oranges, as if lit by roaring flames. The entire Earth seemed alive with color and joy. But lo, something stirred. I tell you, things are not always what they seem. For on that day, came the final end to man, the final judgement for him and all of his sins.

    Upon a great hill stood five beings, four of them sitting upon horses. They watched the goings on far below grimly, for they knew what must come of this. The first being could not be seen, as He shone so brightly that any who looked upon Him would surely die. For this was the Great Judge. And He commanded the men beside Him.

    The second being, a man, like two of the three that would follow him, rode a bright horse, clean and white as the driven snow on a bright January morn'. But for this man's purpose, and that of his beast, to be so lovely the world could only wish! In one armored hand he carried a bow. In contrast to his bright and shining appearance, the bow was dark, and of a wicked form. An instrument of death and pain, surely not sport. A jeweled crown sat as well upon his head.

    Thus, the Great Judge spake.

    "Come." Said He, and the rider tightened his white cloak around him, kicked up his spurrs and rode down to deliver his punishment upon man. His companions looked on from the hill as he rallied the men of the world against each other. As both sides prepared for battle, the rider returned to his place on the hill. For Conquest's work was over, and a new horseman's time had come.

    Beside Conquest was another man, not unlike himself. But this man wore a red cloak and rode a red horse. Also, unlike Conquest, who was a proud man, and always held his chin high, this red rider was ugly, and covered from head to toe in horrible scars. The rider held a great sword in his right hand, the tip of which dripped endlessly with fresh blood.

    And then this rider too, pulled his red cloak closer and descended upon man. Now as the generals of the world drew their battle lines and prepared for what was to come, it was this rider who sparked everything. The men of Earth charged each other with reckless abandon, howling like wild animals, hacking and slicing into each other. And then in the midst of it, away rode War, for his mission was accomplished.

    And now the world was plunged into darkness. The battle ended, but it seemed that neither side had managed to claim victory. The men of Earth stood bewildered on the great battlefield, stumbling around, oblivious to all around them. They were weakened, but not destroyed.

    And so came the time for the next rider. Unlike his brothers, he rode a gaunt horse, black as the night, and wore a black cloak. Also unlike the others, he and his mount were completely emaciated. Their bones shone through their taut skin like those of a dried and decaying corpse. Their eyes were sunken, and their cheeks hollow. In the rider's hands he held a set of tarnished scales.

    And so, like the others, at last came his time to punish those last people remaining on Earth. As he rode swiftly through farmers' fields their crops withered away to ashes, and when he breathed upon their livestock, they collapsed and died. And then he commanded swarms of insects to infest their homes and their foodstocks. Slowly but surely the people of Earth began to starve, and Famine's work was finished.

    Finally, stood the last horseman. Unlike his brothers, he was not a man, but the hollow shell of one. The last remnants of sun in the gathering darkness landed lightly on his bleached bones, and they seemed to glow in it. A horrid smell of rot and decay hung around this rider and his pale mount, who was very nearly a skeleton as well.

    His time came like the others, but he moved slowly upon man, creeping up ever so quietly. But when he finally arrived, he took them quickly. As his mount carried him fluidly across the Earth, the last men, women, and children alike suddenly stopped what they were doing, and collapsed to the ground, unmoving, not breathing. And on he slithered through every street, over every hill, and across every ocean until finally there was none, and Death's work too, was complete.

    Entrant 1 - MorganH.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    His footsteps were making the snow crackle, his breath blew big fumes of icey damps as he was slowly moving forward through the desolate frozen forrest.
    "Haa,what was that guy thinking;that he was a kind of Romulus or Remus? "raised by wolves",haha,that bloody idiot", the Man thought while he was slowly but carefully following the path of footsteps in the fresh snow.

    The Man had no regrets,no remourse whatsoever about the terrible deed he had just done.
    He had viciously slit the strangers throat after he had made him tell where he had stashed his valuables,and tell him everything was exactly what the poor captive did, after the Man had carefully and slowly sliced out one of his eyes when he refused to speak initially.

    His victim had claimed he was one of the last survivors of the notorious slave army led by Spartacus,and had been living in these forrests ever since that dreadfull day the slaves were annihilated by the Roman Armys under Craccus and later of Pompey as well.

    For years the stranger had hidden himself and his little treasure,gained by months of brutal plundering of the Roman villages and defeated armys,in the remote forrests of Lucania,supposedly in perfect harmony with the local wildlife and surrounding nature.
    Well,thats what he claimed anyway as his eye was taken out of its socket.

    The man spat on the ground,disgusted by the thought of living in such circumstances.
    After a slow and arduous walk,tracking the dead mans footsteps,he finally reached the desolate cave just before it went dark.

    By the last remnants of daylight the Man searched the cave and found a pouch with silver and golden coins just like his victim had confessed to him.
    Just as he stood up to leave,the snow came pouring down again,and with the darkness now covering the forrest, he had no choice other then to spend the night in the cave.

    Hours passed by and the Man had fed himself with the carefully stored vegetables and pieces of dried meat that obviously had kept the stranger alive for so many years.
    It was getting colder and colder and he had no means of making a fire so he pulled out his gladius,covered himself with his cloack and some stinking furs,apparently used by his victim as well,and lay himself to rest.

    While he was trying to get some sleep, he all of a sudden noticed something very strange;there were no sounds of beasts,birds or hares even,nothing,nothing at all,just intense silence all around.
    The cave was pitched black and an awkward feeling got hold of the man,it was,it was...it was like there was somebody else in there with him,somebody, or something and then..... then it came...The Wolf !
    His cry of sheer and utter terror pierced the dark cave and surrounding forrests as the Wolf caught his throat and ripped it to pieces while his last thought was that the stranger hadnt been exaggerating afterall...
    And then the rest of the animals started to arrive,to feast upon the remnants of their human friends torturer and murderer,and feast they did...

    Entrant 2 - Frederich Barbarossa
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The House in the Lake

    The Old man carrying his rotten old bauble, filled with impunity from the dark.
    He lay down wrapping his arm around a pile of mould, only to find a piece of damp and dreary bark.
    The floor had been filled with Nitre and shards of lore and broken glass.
    For only had there been an immolation in these corners, that only the evil could ever cast.

    In a sense of confusion, he checked his countenance, as if someone had took a craven blow.
    Aghast, he had been. A flock of crows circled him above, to and fro.
    He was in Shock and filled with a demur while his once polished cravat, had been polished no more.
    A behemoth of shadowy creatures then swooped in as he ran towards an elderly mansion door.

    The mansion was now a domiciliary to him, and his heart was beating rapidly, of the least.
    The old owners, he had now disinter, were cast out of their eternal peace.
    The crypt had been disturbed, and soon came herds of anonymous creatures.
    The abandoned mansion, after all, had been a home with many odd features.

    He sprinted a far, but only found dissimulations and had soon gone into a state of dotage.
    Forever was he now trapped underneath the roof in disturbance, of this dreary and Machiavellian cottage.


    TotW 96a - Walking Away
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Winner - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Past the forest
    And down the bank
    Across the stream
    And through the swamp
    If you venture further
    Into the ruins
    Maybe you'll see a statue
    Of a soldier, a man
    Lying wounded and dying
    Clutching his side
    In agony
    When you arrive at the statue
    Look at the base
    Where you'll see an inscription
    Which reads as follows:

    As the diplomats scurry
    To fulfill the goals of their nation
    The leaders Scream the command
    Go and Fight, it's for liberation!

    And the men the Pawns the Toys
    They Fight, without cause and without Reason
    They have no Hate for these men
    But not to Kill and Maim, is Treason

    And when they have won, or Lost
    Then they return, to live and Regret
    The leaders don't care, it's done
    But they, the Soldiers, can not Forget

    As life moves on around them
    They don't live, a silent Memorial
    To all those have fallen
    Killed by their leaders, Raptorial

    Now that they're gone, Forgotten
    No one, any where, remembers them
    People live with Ignorance
    And the sacrifice becomes Worthless.

    When you've read it
    And return here
    Try to remember
    Those who have died
    To keep you living
    In the lap of luxury
    Just because they died
    Without reason
    Doesn't mean they should be
    Forgotten.

    Entrant 1 - Copperknickers II
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    'Fear is not a curse. Fear is not a weapon that debilitates, or a trap that snares. Fear is a gift.' Those are the words of my brother, and I believe them. There is something primal about fear; it is raw, intense, and basic. When afraid, everything else is forgotten, as if you suddenly remember something important you have to do, and drop everything you are holding to go and do it. Fear, afterall, is a mechanism of
    survival, and all other concerns are dropped when your life is at stake. Self-preservation is a natural instinct, and when you sacrifice your own life, you are unnaturally destroyed. So my brother's words come back to me whenever I am afraid. 'You don't win wars by dying for your country. You win wars by making the other son of a die for his!' - General George S. Patton.

    I am a soldier, a profession in which fear is secondary to duty. It's a hard balance to maintain; you have to brave but cautious, in between ignoble cowardice and crazed impetuousness. And the battlefield is a terrible place, it's like a battering ram to your psyche - your very soul is ripped apart by what you witness. You cannot understand, envision or even hope to conceive what it feels like. The gunfire's terrible
    laceration of the air nearly bursts your eardrums, the explosions, the screams of the dying and the sapid, metallic tang of blood in your nostrils... all of these give me horrific nightmares. The faces of people I have killed stare back at me when I look in the mirror, each one hangs from me, a lead weight on a heavy iron chain.

    But I am not evil, though I have done evil. I do only what I must. For some people it delights them and thrills them, it's electrifiying. As they shoulder their rifles and march forward, they are heroes. My brother says they are ignorant thugs who have no place in the military. Without fear, he says, you lose touch with your humanity, your imperfectness and your perspective, and then you become evil.

    I'm thinking these things lying on my uncomfortable mattress, in our spartan Afghan barrack - even as an officer there are few comforts out here for anyone. I want to ask my brother about loyalty. I agree with him on a lot of what he says about our job, but I am worried he doesn't have as strong a sense of loyalty to his fellow soldiers or the generals as he should. One day he will get into trouble for that, for letting fear get the better of him, letting his animal selfishness overcome his obligation to the rest of us and abandoning someone in their time of need. He's older than me, but I often find myself protecting him, so I worry about him.

    The next day, we are out on patrol. The company in the valley up ahead have been ambushed so we are going to assist them. We pile into the armoured vehicle, my brother opposite me. A couple of the guys are new, this will be their first time in the firing line. I can almost smell their fear, mixed with the by now familiar odour of sweat; all of us are drenched in it under the thick helmet and kevlar body armour. We
    get out at the start of the valley and proceed on foot. The draining, oppressive heat of midday sun beats down upon us. The haze makes the sunbeams appear to dance timidly in the air, and the sandy walls of the valley are riddled with grotesque wind-carved sculptures. I am scared. But not as scared as some of the younger ones, at least I am used to this now. They glance around nervously, as if scared an army
    of militants is going to jump out from behind a bush at any moment. We continue up the valley, hearts pounding, eyes watching.

    What happens next, I don't really remember. I just remember waking up to find my ears ringing. It must have been a Rocket Propelled Grenade, or maybe a hidden bomb on the path. Luckily I don't seem to have suffered any major injury. I look round for my brother, and see that he too is unhurt. My mouth and throat are dry, but I ask him in a cracked voice what happened. He says it was an RPG. We throw ourselves to the ground as we hear a whistle then an explosion - another one, but it is much further up. Some of our company is ok, the rest we have to leave here for the timebeing. There is a building ahead, we see the flare and hear the crack as shots are fired from it. We take the building and climb the side of the valley, and see that there is a small group of militants defending a redoubt at the top. They are masked by
    a screen of smoke from their RPGs.

    There is a trench leading up to the fortification, and I order my squad to go into it. We assemble behind a wall of sandbags round the corner from the entrance to the bunker. It is imperative that we neutralise the bunker's defenders, I instruct. We have to go in there. My brother says we should wait for reinforcements. How can we wait for reinforcements when they will just be gunned down on their way up here, I reply. I am angry with him, he is indecisive and this situation calls for a decision to be made. And so I make one.

    I feel alive. My fear has gone. I sprint from behind the wall. My brother tries to pull me back, but I understand now; he is a coward. I push him away, aim my rifle up straight ahead. This time, I go back into the arena, the sanguinary domain of the merciless bullet, with pleasure. I am a leader, I am a warrior, I am superhuman. But: fear is not a curse. Fear is not a weapon that debilitates or a trap that snares.
    Fear is what would have saved my brother, when he ran out from the wall after me. He had seen him, the Mujahideen fighter behind me with his rifle raised. I looked round to hear a gunshot, and see the blood blossom from a small dot on the small of my brother's back into a scarlet rose. The two fell, and I saw my brother's bayonet sunk into the man's abdomen as they turned, and they landed together, locked in a hateful embrace. Fear is a gift. I threw that gift aside, and payed for my stupidity with the knowledge that I killed my brother.

    Entrant 2 - Ryou
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I looked around. The two lines of soldiers stretched miles to both sides of me, taking up positions and making defenses. Lord Chatman with his British Army had confronted Napoleon the Great his majesty, leader of the French, my emperor. In a fast 2 days Napoleon of Mobilized his Grand Armee, the greatest force that ever walked upon the Earth. His wrath was great, so great that for 4 days his enemies fled before him until they finally found the position they hope they needed to defeat us, HAH! The emperor was not worried at all. With his best and most well trained artillery in the WORLD he had no fear, there was no position safe, no fortress unconquerable in all the world, no, not even the Island Fortress known as England. IN within the first hour our gunners opened up, firing in such a rapid succession that they were pumping out 4 shots in a minute, from rockets to shrapnel to “bouncing Betties” and even the dread canister when the king’s men feel like showing their prowess. I lay down lower. The English were returning fire, but they were both out gunned and out skilled, they stand no chance. Just for the fun of it I fired my musket at the British position, and my fellows joined in with me, such was our moral and sureness. I had a very snug position behind a wooden fence, and Lt. Harkens, our captain joined behind me.
    “Hey Sergeant Pickens, tell your men to fire at will.” He said.
    “Aye!” I replied heartily and shouted to my 10 men
    “Units! FIRE.AT.WILL!!!!!! They responded with cheers and fired for all their worth. Now the British commander realized for all his planning and positioning it won’t do him any good and he ordered a general advance upon our lines, using their numerical advantage, Hah! Our artillery fired up upon them, engulfing the battle field into a eerie mist that won’t clear. Fearing an enemy charge catching us unprepared we fired into the smoke, hoping to hit something. Soon bullets were whizzing through the air. Damm that Sergeant Rat, ordering his men to fire directly behind us. A ball grazed my arm from behind and I turned around in anger, watched Sg. Rat hurry away, turned my attention back to the fight.
    “OH god they’re charging!” Private Skill said next to me. They sure were, brilliant dressed British horsemen, sabers waving, appearing out of the smoke and charging directly at our fence.
    “Skill, lead 3 men and head to the right, charge the cavalry with bayonets once we stop their charge.” I told him. He nodded and head off. I threw a grenade, home made. Holding it in my hand for several seconds. I was especially proud of this grenade, having fashioned it in my own hand. The iron shell once being the earring of my girl, who is waiting for me back at my home in Lorraine. Waiting until the Grenade almost blew, I threw it, watched in satisfaction as it sailed toward a clump of British horsemen that were charging at me, and then gasped in shock as a musket ball, fired by Sergeant rat, who is now next to me, dislodged the grenade slightly so that, despite my perfect aim, it struck the top of the fence and ricocheted back at us!
    I looked down at the small ball of explosive that landed between me and Rat, watch it roll, suddenly felt calm as I watched it in fascination. The shell was suddenly gone, so suddenly, and I felt a slight pain in the chest as a shell, the one made from my Gal’s earring, pierced my heart.
    The British were driven back with ease by the grand Armee, the great victory that allowed Napoleon to secure victory. However many small stories remain untold and forgotten by the simple total warrers who research war stuff on Wikipedia………..=)
    Entrant 3 - Super Sea Otter
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Dearest Natasha

    By the time you've have received this letter, the news may already be well-outdated. Three months late perhaps? I do not know. Western Europe, unlike the vast steppes of Mother Russia is quite uncomfortably warm. I haven't worn the overcoat you sent me for my birthday for months now. I am writing to you from Berlin, where we have recently driven out the Prussians who have retreated to Hanover and Silesia. I am currently drawing in new recruits from the area, mainly Germans and ethnic Scandinavians.

    It's funny, the Army of Western Europe when it first was mustered consisted of over 70,000 Russian volunteers, many. Now, the Russians barely make up about 5% of the army over the 6 years it has been deployed in Europe. It is now mainly comprised of Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, German, Scandinavian, Polish, Hanoverian, French, and Spanish volunteers. Even the ethnics have found their ways into the ranks of Generals. Colonel Matarazzo in the 23rd Italian, General Imhof is a pole, and even one of my staff officers happens to be an American surprisingly. However, it's both tragic and rather difficult.

    Maintaining the army is a complete nightmare, worse than that maybe. All of these volunteers speak different languages, many have different beliefs and differing loyalties. It is a miracle this army operates at all. My aggressive tactics might've cost me good Russians. All good men.

    I've bet you've heard the tales about me, being a butcher and callous with my men. In all honestly, that's somewhat true. But, for 6 years these men have grown to trust me to lead them to victory, and I them. No matter the cost. I once almost broke down crying after receiving word that Matarazzo was wounded in the campaign in Belgium. Thankfully he survived, but he lost an arm. He continues to serve faithfully. I only speed things up a bit because I want to get home as soon as possible. I want to be able to see you again, I'm starting to forget what you look like. It's terrible being separated from you my sister.

    Anyway, I will be moving for another Italian Campaign, the damned Austrians won't surrender they still hold Venice and the outlying areas. Wish me the best of luck. Tell Mikhail I wish you two the best for your wedding, I sincerely regret not being able to come and see you marry. Matarazzo, Imhof, and Ogienko send their regards. I love you Natasha, my dear sister, I will be home by Christmas hopefully.

    Signed, Lieutenant General Sergei Kamensky
    General of the Army of Western Europe and the Russian Republic


    The letter was sent and reached Natasha Kamensky on December 3rd, 1812.

    A month after Kamensky had died in an ambush in Naples.
    Entrant 4 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    "Strife"

    From across the world I feel you filled with strife. Even as you pound on the keyboard, I feel the overwhelming emotion inside of you. Do they not see who you are and what you feel...??.. Why do I feel this horrific soletiude coming from you? Is there no outlet for what is bottled up inside of you...Is there no one who can peirce the veil.....

    "Por que me tratas como si yo fue un extranjero? Por que me tratas como si yo no seinto lo que yo se, que esta alli." {Why do you treat me as if I were a stranger? Why do you treat me as if I dot not feel that which I know is there?}

    You tell me that the world is a very cruel place, while simultaneously you sit in a room full of people, and suffer in remorseful solitude.

    Tu eres cobarde y ladron. Tu eres cruel sin fondo. Finalmente tu eres mentiroso..... {You are a coward and a theif. You are cruel beyond measurement or understanding. Finally you are a Liar...}.


    Adam Lambert - If I Had You

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmXQFwlD7vk
    Entrant 5 - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Farewell

    In the end, what is love? One million people will give a million different answers, to some love may be the feeling of butterflies going up and down in one´s stomach, to others it will be the joy you feel when you see a pretty girl (or a handsome man, for you women out there), for a certain group it might be the fact that you can rely on another person knowing it will never fail you, to others it might be friendship taken to another level, to some it´s just the ability to trust in one another, to my parents is 25 years of sticking together through better or worse, to my brother is seeing the image of his unborn child on his wife´s belly. To others it might be a feeling, a fleeting feeling, one you might never capture but that is there, teasing you, to the philosophers it´s a state of mind, to the psychologists is a hazard to one´s sanity, for teenagers is a way to spend summer nights and goin-outs, for doctors it´s just another of the multiple reactions that happen inside your brain.



    Neurotransmitters are a I tell ya. Love is mediated by a bunch of nasty molecules called anandamines, these suckers act only when your brain associates whatever impulse or sensation to your current object of desire, it might be a woman, a man, a dog, a car or hell it might be a box of chocolates as far as I know. These anandamines give you a feeling of pleasure and comfort that you relate with your object of desire, it´s your “crush” if you will, anandamines give you “crushes”… they are specific, they are intense, they are passionate, but in the end, the anandamine´s receptor end up tiring of that stupid sensation and love, infatuation disappears…it goes away like the flutter of a beautiful paradise bird.



    Woman, of course, know how to manipulate a man´s anandamines with clockwork exactitude, they tease you, they taunt you, they kiss you on the cheek, they say “te quiero” in low whispers, they say they love spending time with you, they hug you from behind and from upfront, they know how to twist your brain, making you blind to anything else but her.



    Only her, only her had me eating from her hand and willing to fulfill any command, she had control over the iron monger of the school, little fool, she released me, she lost the man of her live, the one that could have given her stars and flowers embroidered with diamonds, She had me by the…..anandamine´s receptors, but the receptors are tired, and so I´m tired of her.



    Farewell little butterfly, may the light of the future burn your wings and may you fell to the ground, and when you´re there and I´ll pass you by, may you say: “There goes the one I had and let go, poor me.” I promise you, that when I´m done with you, you´ll have no tears left to cry.

    Farewell, my dear, farewell.


    TotW 97a - Distant Realities and Far off Dreams
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    Winner - Marachel Ney
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    A gazelle trotted through the brush land. It ate some grass and walked around. Then its ears picked up on something; perhaps it had some clairvoyant knowledge of oncoming doom for many. Then its head burst into blood.

    Lieutenant Colonel William Jameson surveyed the land before him. When he heard the shot, he almost thought for a moment that his line had been attacked by the Zulu. Of course, it was merely his men hunting. His aid approached him. "Sir…wouldn't you consider that an action such as hunting the game here could give the enemy a good idea of our position." Jameson sighed and turned. "Captain Howard, supplies are low. We need to get by somehow."

    "Sir, I just do not think that this is the way. Our men are being rather endangered by such noise. And besides, is getting five rations worth potentially destroying the army." Jameson was annoyed. He considered how he had been immune from such stupidity in Transvaal. "Howard, do you see the Zulu army? Well I don't, and I clearly will not be frightened by ghosts."

    And just then the ghosts attacked. Screams came from down the gradually sloping hill from the foraging party; a man with a javelin in his abdomen fell beside the game he had died for. Soon arrows emerged from the woods, and then a characteristic shield bang that several of the veterans knew all too well. Instantly company commanders burst into action. Howard went back to his men, and Lt. Colonel Jameson was now escorted by Lieutenant Ambridge and Sergeant Folwheather.

    "Get the men into line, tell them to open fire and make sure that they get one very close range volley. That should repulse the damned barbarians…" Ambridge looked, worried, to Folwheather. Apparently both saw the flaw with the plan. "Sir," Ambridge began. "What of a Zulu flanking attempt?" Jameson quickly responded. "Ambridge, get a few men from each company. Fifteen men on each flank ought to be more than enough to hold 'em off."

    Now the Zulu lines were charging through brush; Folwheather muttered that if an entire Zulu army could hide that well then they should just have individual fighters lie on the ground and kill passing British soldiers. "Nobody would likely notice" the sergeant said while smiling. Muttering curses to Irish humor, Jameson ordered his horse into a trot to view the lines. Just then his men started firing. Ranks of Zulus were falling. Jameson was glad that know the world could see the power and glory of Britain firsthand.

    Just then Ambridge arrived back. "I have 15 men on both flanks, sir. Though may I suggest that we raise it to at least 35? The Zulus often like to try to surround their enemy." Jameson pretended to think about it for a moment, then laughed. "Do you really think that they, the unwashed barbarians of the jungle, could execute a proper flanking maneuver? The Zulu rely on ambush. Since we have responded to the ambush, we have nothing to fear." Ambridge sighed. "Right, sir."

    An envoy from a group of riflemen in the center came up. "Lt. Colonel Jameson. There is…a problem." Jameson turned around. "What, I can perfectly see from here that the Zulu are nowhere near melee range. The envoy fiddled with his belt out of anxiety. "Well…they have appeared to be…well…in a fortified position. Apparently they managed to stack the bodies of their fallen and many warriors are now hiding behind them. Plus several are behind trees…" Jameson scoffed. "Well, keep sniping at those that they can hit. It's not that hard. Just repulse the damned barbarians already."

    Just then a cavalryman burst through brush 100 yards to their left. He was not wearing uniform, and, with a cry, charged the command party. Folwheather drew pistol and opened fire. Three shots missed; his fourth connected but the rider kept coming. The fifth hit the horse. His final shot, at near point blank range, hit the Zulu in the head and stopped him dead. From behind his body came 15 more riders.

    Ambridge quickly drew his gun and asked his superior to do likewise. Jameson responded by handing Ambridge his pistol. "How in the name of God did they get here? That flanking force was completely inept." Ambridge, desperately firing pistols as the command party moved away, managed to reply over gunfire. "Sir, those men are likely dead, look at what they had to face!" And then Jameson saw; a column of 50 very lightly armored Zulus, blood on their blades, dashing around the British flank. Looking right, they were approaching from that way as well.

    The envoy, who, at the start of the fighting was halfway between lines and command, rushed back towards Jameson and opened fire with his rifle. A Zulu cavalryman went down, but the rest kept coming. Ambridge exhausted his ammunition and drew steel. Folwheather did likewise. Jameson looked around. "Where the hell is Traughtman? We could use his blade…" Quickly responding, Ambridge said "Corporal Traughtman was injured on a patrol last night in which a Zulu stabbed him while he was walking by and ran away. Apparently the patrol never noticed and the Corporal had to crawl back to camp." The last word was slightly muffled by the lieutenant's sword clanging against a Zulu spear.
    Folwheather cut down a rider, his horse bucking madly.

    Then Jameson contemplated as he watched, on the rifle front, the entrenched Zulus suddenly charging again; apparently numerous parts of the line were being attacked from behind. Hadn't such a tactic been used in the past? Yes, now he remembered. It was in the antiquities, by…a man from North Africa…Carthage, that was the country. And he had defeated a Roman army under…Skip? It was at Can…Can something, probably southern France.

    While Folwheather screamed as a lance pierced him, Jameson suddenly realized that these tactics were being employed by the Zulus. In his peripheral vision he saw Ambridge's horse fall to the ground, dead, its rider trying to back away. Jameson had considered many times to draw his sword, but he was a commander, and that was not the way of a gentleman. He found it funny that such good tactics were being employed by the barbarians…and then a thought that would have been blasphemous in the past came to his mind: Were they barbarians? He never figured it out, as that was Lieutenant Colonel Jameson's last thought. He was surrounded by many dead men, and that field would be, by day's end, a bloodbath. Lying in the midst of men was a gazelle.

    Entrant 1 - BigMasterAb
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    „Down there “the officer said, „they must be hiding somewhere in the trees.”


    We have marched for weeks now.
    Weeks without any sign of our opponents. We marched and marched through the dreary and strange lands, hefting our equipment through the desert sun.
    Luckily the troops could fill up their canteens yesterday as we found a green oasis. Men and animal regained their strength – urgently necessary for our task, for what was lying before us.

    We came here in the king’s name, in the name of our people, our well developed trading companies. We were told we would do an indispensable service to the civilized world, a favour to the backward natives, but since we came here it seemed more like we are unwelcome guests, or even evil strangers, their sworn enemies.
    Our officer keeps saying they’d need to be forced to their own luck, but since I got here, I more and more believe it’s we, who are thinking in a wrong way.

    The entire seventh cavalry regiment was sent to this place, to conquer the lands and make the country majestic territory. The king wants to have access to the enormous resources this land seems to have and it is said there is way more behind it than just gold or ivory.

    So here we are now, standing upon a hill, ready to strike while our enemy’s forces are hiding in the wood in front of us. We finally found their main army.
    We all knew we’re standing on the edge of a battle, but no-one really knew the enemy, nor how and where exactly he’s going to strike. All we knew was they have to be down there somewhere - but where exactly, how many of them, how well equipped?

    “Down there, they must be hiding somewhere in the trees. Form a battle line!
    Prepare for attack!”, were the last words I heard from our officer.
    “Charge!!!”





    Hell if we had known what awaited us…

    Entrant 2 - Czone
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    It was a cold morning in Northern Holland. It seemed like the grass was covered in sunlight at every square centimeter. Warmth seemed to be radiating from every direction, but the only things that were actually warm, were the men in the French Old Guard. Well, men... I said that, but I meant the French bastards. I'm not one of the people that endorses the Batavian Republic. I hate it with a passion. Now on to my actual story.

    The men were marching across the Dutch soil. Just like that. So, I decided to kill a couple. Suicidal? Of course. Smart? Obviously not. Sensible? Nah. A good ing laugh? YES!
    So I grabbed the rifle I stole from one of the French pussies when he was lying down after breakfast. Of course he was quite full after the TWO croissants he ate that morning. I had sneaked into the camp at night, waiting for an opportunity. I grabbed the rifle, bashed the skull of the French bastard in and sneaked out of the camp again. Then I had a proper breakfast and went to the field.

    Now I'm sitting in a tree, trying to aim the rifle at an officer. Then I saw a short bloke on a horse. He looked like he was a typical Frenchman, arrogant, annoying and just a tiny bit bent. I decided to shoot him first. I shot and missed by a milimeter, as the bastards faggotly call it. I reloaded, and after a minute I shot again. RIGHT IN THE KISSER. The French woke up and started shooting at the small forest I was in. I shot another guy in between the legs, right in his peeing hole. They hit the tree I sat in, but I kept my balance. After shooting one more I decided to get the bloody out of here. Jumping from tree to tree I covered a short distance, then let myself down and started running.

    The guy I shot kinda looked like this, I hope he's some kind of high official or something, it'd be fun if I had any impact on history.



    Entrant 3
    - Eazyrider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    TotW 97a: Distant Realities and Far off Dreams
    ‘Morning Laura!’ She flashed him one of her shy smiles and resumed typing. He walked past to confront a slim brunette. ‘Ashley! Good to see you back; how was Brazil, I hear they have the most exciting parades this time of year? Oh yes: and you get me one of your special coffees; I have no idea how to work that machine!’ She nodded dumbly; unable to meet his extravagant nature and handsome looks.

    He made his way briskly to his cubicle where he found, to his dismay, a young but stern looking woman: ‘Mrs. Flanders!—‘
    ‘You have a wife Jeffrey and I have a husband. There are your papers.’ She pointed to an enormous pile of paperwork; ‘They have been accumulating while you were gone.’ Jeffrey sighed; ‘Always grumpy, eh Mrs. Flanders? Cheer up; we must flirt while we can; you’re only young once.’ He gave her a naughty wink and in response she shot him a disgusted glare, before marching off, murmuring vehemently while doing so.

    He sat at his desk and glanced at the papers: they would take forever to do, let alone read. He shook his head at the thought of Mrs. Flanders; never seemed to enjoy anything, even at the age of 21!

    Putting her aside he marked the date on the calendar and studied the daily paper: the headlines read: ‘Five killed in Car Bomb UK’. More depressing news; why had the world become so dark? No, the world was as joyful as he could want; it was the media that had brainwashed the American populace. All the terrorist attacks that made the headlines every morning, all seemed like a distant reality, something far off; and to him: something that barely existed; like a far off dream. Or maybe it was just because he couldn’t relate to it? From birth he had lived a charmed life; he flew through school and college, passing with flying colors. He had gotten a prestigious degree which he had used to gain his current, well paid, commission. It all came so easily to him that he found it distressing when he saw others who were not as gifted or struggled with emotions.

    He gazed out of the window, day dreaming. The 85th floor provided a spectacular view of the city, sprawled out in front of him. A far off dream; all the anger, hate and resentment; he dreamed now. He could see a bird approaching, gliding effortlessly through the air. It looked beautiful. It was a big bird, he thought. As it came closer, he watched it change shape till it resembled a plane: sailing through the buildings. It drew closer.

    He watched with fascination as it flew by all the buildings, intent on him. It drew closer. Around him people started screaming, the noise was immense; but it made no sense to him. It drew closer. He could make out the finer details now, the pilot: was a bearded man clothed in white robes, his eyes were wild in ardent fervor.

    The screams were now distant as time slowed. He could feel the beat of his heart; pounding violently against his rib cage. He knew now this was no far off dream; it was no distant reality; it was tangible and there. Yet he felt no fear.

    He watched it crash now: almost absorbed by the building. Bright jets of flame sprouting like flower buds around it. He felt his whole world shake, as the ground beneath him fell. Yet there was no noise, no feel and no smell. It was all happening in a melancholy silence. He died in the explosion, his body burnt to ash.

    The screams and the noise went on; sirens of every sort reverberated through the city. Through the madness and out of the window was a piece of paper: torn from the calendar by the explosion it now floated, almost mockingly away from the building, now in flames. On it, circled in bright red: 9/11.








    TotW 98a - Love is a Silent Killer

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 






    Santa sat down in his chair, staring at the fire which burnt brightly at the hearth. It was late in the darkest hours of the night and he desperately needed an idea. The evil Grentches had laid siege to his workshop. He could hear outside as his elves toiled labouredly creating snowballs to fight off the invasion. He remembered the Grentches attacked his workshop thousands of years before, in eagerness to destroy the presents, and ruin Christmas for all of humanity. Suddenly, an idea sprang up into his mind. He remembered what he had used to destroy the last Grentch invasion, the fabled Snowman army. It was a legendary sight to behold, a huge army created to defend Santa’s Workshop in times of great need.
    Enlightened by the prospect, Santa got out of his chair and walked over to his bookshelf. It was filled with countless books that he had not read for many years due to the fact that the human population had increased, causing the need for more presents. He had to time to read through his books before, but now, he eagerly searched for the one book. He saw it, dark black in color, with the words “Snowman Army” etched in fine gold letters. He took it from the shelf, and began to read. Finally, at the last page, he had seen the words needed to summon this legendary army. The only problem was, the summoning could only be used, when Christmas itself, was in great peril. Santa read the words aloud, and nothing happened. Suddenly, a huge crash was heard. Santa got up, and ran towards the balcony to see what had gone wrong….
    As he peered outside, he saw what had happened. The Grentch were firing huge chunks of magical ice, which froze anyone on contact, from their frozen catapults. His eyes bulged as he saw the buildings around his workshop being destroyed, and many elves frozen and chilled to the soul. Suddenly, the gate was broken as the Grentch poured into the workshop. The elves ran back from the walls, as they were felled down by the Grentche’s long claws. Santa yelled from the balcony “Rally Elves, fight back this menace!”
    Fighting began as the elves barricaded the streets with snow forts and felled many Grentch with their candy cane weapons. Many on both sides were felled, but the Grentch just kept swarming into the workshop like a horde of ants, replacing the dead in their ranks. Slowly the elves took their toll and were overrun. Finally, the Grentch had made it to the heart of the workshop, where all the presents awaited delivery to the children of the Earth. At this moment, Santa stood at the door, with the last remaining elves. He opened the tome, and began to recite the verse again….
    “I summon thee, from the frigid hearts, for the love of the ice! For all of Christmas to be saved, I summon thee fellow Snowmen, to fight!”
    All of a sudden, clouds gathered above the workshop as a blizzard picked up, roaring through the streets. The Grentch laughed and eagerly approached the last doors into the present storage, when suddenly; snowmen began to fall from the sky. Santa gazed towards the sky, as the frightened Grentch were decimated from the falling snowmen. Thousands of snowmen now ran through the streets, slaying Gretchen with their brooms and wooden sticks. Christmas was now saved!

    Entrant 1 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Love stood impassively as he watched the beast before him. It wasn't his first Daemon hunt; nor if he had anything to do about it was his last. But when dealing with such Manifestations it couldn't hurt to be careful. Especially since scattered around the barren charred field which stank of both magical and psychic use there were several bodies. Many in a less then complete state. Yet the beast seemed rested. It's beastial axe dripping in gore and bile. It's armour dented, it's body oozing Ichor. It was a repulsive scene to even someone like Love.

    With a beat of it's wings the Daemon became aware of Love, faster then the kin he had struck down prior. Smiling slightly as he felt the proving caress of Psychic influence apon his body. Being gifted in the fields of both Kenetic and Exploratory Psychic manipulation it wasn't a surprise to feel the probes. But already the warning signs were manifesting themselves. If this was a Psychic Daemon it wasn't going to be an easy quarry to track. Bringing his spear into a ready position, bringing the cruel point to bear at the beast Love watched as the Daemon sniffed in deeply then roared out a challenge; expanding it's wings and focussing it's sunken eyes apon him.

    His breath caught in his throat suddenly trying to suck in another breath paniced Love as he couldn't breath. It wasn't only his lungs that were failing him. He couldn't move his body at all. Like he was held in a torturers rack. Hearing a staggered breath coming from the Daemon Love guessed in his quickly suffocating world that it was laughing, mocking him. As he managed to squeeze a breath out and suck one in quickly he felt the pressure tighten. The momentary relief in his lungs gave the hunter a chance to reassess the situation. He'd used this trap himself many times. Hold the arms and legs of your prey in one place with sheer Kinetics. But a full body trap? This wasn't a simple Daemon. His attention distracted as the flat of the axe blade struck him from the side with the impact of a titan behind it. As the psychic entrapment gave way as his body flew unceremoniously through the air. His spear cracked and splintered from the impact was still in one piece.

    Landing with a crash and bouncing briefly Love heroically took another breath as the pain registered. His entire body was on fire. Despite his armour being magically infused it had dented around the edges of the ax when it had struck. Blood was now seeping from the gaps where his armour had been sliced on the cutting edge of the weapon. Struggling to stand as it felt like most of his ribs and right arm had been broken Love heard the cloven hoofs stamp towards him. Glancing up through his now misaligned helm which had saved him from an instant death the beast was a fair distant away. But as the wings opened and the Daemon raised from the ground then descended quickly towards him Love gripped his spear and in shaking hands gave a shout as he narrowly avoided the brutal crushing edge of the ax as the Daemon landed heavily on the bloody ground. His own spear shattered with the impact of the thrust into the hide. The enchanted wood splintered and as his own momentum carried his arm into contact with the splintered edge the material passed through his plated bracer and feeling his arm quiver. Love saw a flash from the Daemons eyes.

    Once again flying through the air, this time from sheer Kenetic will of the Daemon Love landed his injured arm first. Feeling the bones explode and crumple as his body followed Love quickly rolled over with a cry and forced the bile back down his throat. Again he heard the thudding of hooves and the expanse of wings. Forcing himself to look at the Daemon he tried to replicate the Psychic entrapment used. With a pain lancing through his head as the beast simply repelled it and continued it's dread flight. Shutting his eyes and for the axe to cleave his head apart.

    "Get up human"

    As Love opened his eyes quickly and regarded the Daemon who had levelled the spike of the axe at his neck. The voice had come from an internal source rather then vocalisation. This was a rare breed indeed! Capable of telepathic communication. Still this pause puzzled him.

    "Why?"

    "You still have steel apon your person; stand and fight human. Or die, like your kin; as a coward."

    Hoping that his surpise wasn't registering through his pain Love stumbled to his feet trying his best to ignore the doubling vision and reluctance of his body to move. Realigning his helm as the Axe spike withdrew patiently. Letting his broken arm drop and with some difficulty drawing his sword. Unlike his spear the steel was not enchanted. It was undecorated and simple. Yet in his dazed eyes and frantic mind it shone like the mourning sun. Yes. It would suffice. He was Love the Silent Killer of Daemons. Looking up at the towering beast as the sunken eyes flashed a final time.

    ***

    Salamel grunted as he closed his large hand around the spearshaft inside of his torso the spear had splintered close to his body and only two fingers could wrap around it. Gingerly pulling it out and looking over the ornate design. The magic of the weapon had been burning the wound deeper. Growling as he flicked it away setting his fingers to the wound and closing it up with sheer force of will. Glancing over at the broken body of the spearmen as it lay breathing it's last. The visions of humans as they departed were strange. Visions. Yet this mans eyes hadn't clouded. Stepping over the man curiously Salamel looked down. The man had no fear. Odd. His kin had begged, cried and pleaded for mercy. Without any care if the attempt killed the man the Daemon forced his way into the mind of the Spearman. Memories flashed, names erupted and grevious sins commited against his people came to light. Yet unlike the others. He had something else. Lowering the spike of his Axe to rest on the forehead of the dying man. Salamel made his decision. Love had earnt this right.

    "With Honour"

    With little procession and silence he drove the spike quickly into the mans skull. No doubt it was a painless end to what had been a legacy of Hatred and Irony to the mans birth name. But Salamel didn't consider such trifling factors. The legacy of one man was now riding on his torso. The injury still burning as the magic of the spear refused to surrender to his Ichor. Perhaps in time.

    Entrant 2 - Magister Militum Flavius Aetius
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Defense of Ravenna: Chapter 1
    The UNSC Flavius Aetius floated in orbit around Ravenna VII. Captain Lucas sat in his command chair with the rest of the bridge crew. "Any slipspace anomolies, lieutenant?" Said the Captain. "None sir, nothing but the usu - wait, we have a considerably massive object on long-range scanners." The Lieutenant shouted. "Alert the fleet Lieutenant Roberts. It may be Covenant. Call for reinforcements and have The Chalons move into position to defend the orbital MAC platforms." Just as the orders were being carried out their suspicions were confirmed. 1 Covenant Supercruiser, 3 CCS-Battlecruisers, and 6 Covenant Corvettes emerged from slipspace. "Lieutenant, Roberts, don't you find it strange, that such a small fleet would be attacking such an important target, which the covenant have known about for quite some time?" Said the Captain. The colony of Ravenna had 3 known forerunner constructs, 1 of which seemed to be some sort of weapon. Next to Reach, it was also the primary source of Titanium for the UNSC Navy. "All 3 Orbital Stations have charged their cannons. Captain Lucas saw a feint shimmer around two asteroids. "Have them fire blankly, just between those two asteroids." Said Lucas. "But sir! That would be a waste of valuable ammunition!" The Lieutenant shouted. "Just do it, son." Barked the Captain. Three red hot projectiles plummeted through space, and impacted. The shields of a massive warship sparked up and it's cloaking flared out. Immediately the Supercarrier returned fire and destroyed the UNSC Destroyers Starlight and Breaking the Line. Then the Supercruiser made a slipspace jump up behind the orbital stations, and destroyed ODP-03. Focale station was dust. "Lieutenant, have the Chalons engage the Supercruiser. Tell them to try and keep the enemy shield generator intact, but disable the ship's weapons and engines," Captain Lucas ordered, "Have the Nova Ravenna and Nova Roma stations continue firing on the supercarrier. Tell the frigates Roma II and Novidunum defend the platforms at all costs." "What about us?" Asked Lieutenant Seville. "Us? Why, we're going to capture a covenant ship." Said the Captain.

    The UNSC Flavius Aetius Moves to Engage

    He woke up in the midst of a chaotic battle, and immediately remembered what was happening. Then he heard the transmission: "30 seconds to firing." The bridge had been compromised. Communications was out, the primary pulse laser cannon was out, and only point-defense was left online. "15 seconds." Halo was about to fire. He immediately set the coordinates, fired a last volley from his tertiary offensive railgun cannon, and aimed the ship to jump. "11…10…9…" The AI echoed. When it hit 7, he jumped cruiser 07-011B into deep space. In a blind spot from the array's effect, he saw 7 bright flashes of light. 3 sentinels opened the bridge door and watched with the commander as multiple rings of energy cleansed the galaxy. He magnetized the boots on his Class 11 Experimental Prototype for Technological Combat Advancement (C-11 EPTCA) combat skin, and watched through his vaugley Y-shaped visor as the Halo effect faded. He ventured down the hallways to the cryo-bay, had his Tactical and Systems Command AI have the ship set in motion with a chain of asteroids, and opened the hatch. He removed his helmet, laid down inside, and watched as the hatch closed. The words "Begin cycle" flashed across the interior of the bay, and he fell into an infinite sleep.

    The UNSC Intrepid in Drydock

    Three Corvettes were gone, along with the Supercruiser and all of the Battlecruisers when 6 more CCS-class cruisers jmped in the system. With the Roma-II destroyed, and all of his ships heavily damaged, Captain Lucas had to make quick decisions. Decks 13,14, and 11 were breached, while decks 1-3 had been boiled away. "Lieutenant, send every marine we can get into a pelican an have them board that corvette. I want it captured!" Shouted the Captain. "What about the planetary defense grid sir? We don't have any ships left to defend it." The Lieutenant responded. "Have the Intrepid and Valiant launched into orbit. I made sure they kept their crews and Ammo at full stock for a reason." The captain ordered. The Halcyon-classes were being refit after the incredible performance of the Pillar of Autumn at reach. It too was costly to refit them to the exact standards of the Autumn, but decided to give them about 1/3 the autumn's refit, except with the same number of Point Defense Turrets. The total would be 100 Archer Missile pods, 3 Shivas, and 40 Point Defense Guns, and the Same Deuterium-Core Reactors the Marathon class ships used. The Chalons was finished, and the Intrepid and Valiant were about to be started when the covenant attacked. Reinforcements were being sent by the 3rd defense fleet, but wouldn't arrive in time to destroy the Supercarrier. "The Intrepid and Valiant are entering orbit sir. Their MAC guns are at 100% charge and they are ready to engage at your command." Lieutenant Haverson said. "Have them Destroy 5 of those CCS-Battlecruiser, and inform them that 100 SOEIVs are being sent to board one of their ships," The Captain commanded, "and make sure they defend those SOEIVs." It was vital now that the UNSC acquire a covenant ship. The Spartain-IIs were busy defending earth, and their leader was at another Halo installation. They had been unsucessful at their mission, because of the fall of Reach. "Sir the Marines have secured the bridge, and have sent the necessary signals to inform the other covenant that the boarders had been repelled." Lieutenant Seville said. "Good, have the ship do a jump to Ravenna. Tell them to land it at the docking yards. Also, have the remaining longswords try and scavenge the guns off those remaining corvettes. Disable the ships permenantley but try and keep the guns." The Captain ordered. The Guns would be useless until they could get an AI, but until then they could be stored for later. The Flavius Aetius' MAC gun fired all remaining out of their 110 Archer Missile pods, and had all 60 autoturrets open fire on the last corvettes. "This is Blade-33, we have sucessfully severed the sections of the covenant plasma cannons. The Captain saw the front-left sides of all 3 corvettes break off, while the remainder of the corvettes was destroyed by missiles. They had successfully captured 9 total cannons, and would be able to use the corvette they captured to wire them to the reactor. "The Chalons is in a degrading orbital path, and cannot escape from it. Their reactor is only able to output 11.7 percent," The Lieutenant said, "but on the bright side 4 out of 5 covenant battlecruisers have been destroyed, and there are 76 ODSTs safely secured in the hangars of the 6th." "Have our new corvette dock with the Chalons immediately, and use it's engines to bring the Chalons back into a stable orbit. Also have the Intrepid and Valiant shield the 6th CCS." The captain said. "The Valiant has been destroyed, but the Intrepid has disabled the 5th Battlecruiser. They are currently moving to protect the remaining CCS, and send as many marines as they can to board it. The Chalons has not docked and is reaching escape velocity." Lieutenant Roberts reported. "Good. And my readings show that the 3rd fleet has jumped into the - wait. Their fleet is in direct firing range of the Supercarrier's energy projectors! Lieutenant warn the…" The Commander stopped abruptly as 1 UNSC destroyer and 3 frigates were sliced in half. The Supercarrier fired it's Super MAC as it moved away from the Covenant ship. "Sir! The UNSC Destroyer Last one there, and the frigates Trier, That's What She Said, and Epic Fail have all been destroyed. The UNSC Adrianople has sucessfully moved out of range. The ODPs are out of ammunition, and are unable to continue firing at the supercarrier. Readings show that it's survived 21 MAC impacts, and if we do not engage now the shields will begin recharging. Also the 6th ship has been captured." The Lieuenant continued running on about known weaponry of the Supercarrier. "Have the Adrianople deploy it's nuclear mines. Tell the Intrepid to escort the new Covenant ship over to our ship. We'll then move to engage the Supercarrier." The Lieutenant did as he was commanded. 20 Minutes later the trap was set and the Flavius Aetius was docked with the newly-accquired Moment of Glory. All remaining ships immediately moved to engage.

    Forerunner Docking Towers, with 2 Cruisers each.

    Commander Aetius woke up, 100,000 years later, to a warning siren and the AI shut-down to preserve energy. The shields had protected them completely from asteroids, and conditions were the same as when he had left. A large planet was passing through the belt, and the 11 kilometer long cruiser was going to impact with it. In the distance there was a larger planet, clearly inhabited, and what appeared to be a battle raging above it. Aetius ran to the bridge and powered up the AI. He also activated the Artificial Gravity and powered up the engines. The AI appeared on his holographic screen, and took the appearance of a standard Forerunner in Class 12. "We are now entering a stable orbit and scanning the local sector." The AI said in a metallic, electronic voice. He sounded similar to the monitor of Installation 04, but not as… eccentric. Over 100,000 years the belt had drifted into a new system, in the middle of the Orion Arm. They were only 110 light years from the portal to Installation 00. "Scan the sector around that planet." Said Aetius. A minute later images of a raging battle between two sides appeared. One side seemed to have the advantage, with a massive ship, more than 2 times the size of the Cruiser. It appeard to be using re-purposed forerunner plasma cannons, but much less advanced. The twin plasma cannons on Aetius' cruiser were a secondary armament, and could slice through that 27km ship in a millisecond. The defenders seemed to have much more primitive technology, using Magnetic Accelerators, similar to the Railgun defense cannon on their dreadnought, but not as powerful. Immediately they fired an opening volley, one ship rotating to fire it's main MAC, but then again to fire 6 more, which rotated to aim and had 3 on each side. Massive chunks of Metal slicedthrough space, and impacted the large ship's shields. 2 small ships, approximately 500 meters, were blackened and barely operational, firing missiles at small fighters. The largest ship in the battle, was appearantley manned by evolved Sangheili and and Unggoy. It also contained large numbers of Mgalekgolo, Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, and a San 'Shyuum. The other side consisted of.. Reclaimers. Homo Sapiens Augeous. "07-11B - 121 Tactical Command AI, those Reclaimers, they are Forerunner, are they not?" "Yes Commander, they are matching our DNA sequence. It appears our fellow forerunners directed them to evolve the same DNA pattern as us. They are essentially a perfect match. Would you like to move in to assist their forces?" 121 asked. "Jump in range of that Supercarrier." Aetius ordered. The rest of his men were still in Cryo-sleep. His Class 11 EPTCA was the same as Class 12, except Class 12 did not have a built-in Anti-grav pack, as it was considered bulky. "Do not wake the others, my armor can withstand the damage from a 10-kiloton Nuclear blast. I'll handle any potential boarders." "Yes Commander, the ship is preparing to teleport.. now." A bright gold flash brought them right in the middle of a field of Nuclear Mines, which immediately detonated. "35 Ten-Megaton Nuclaer mines have detonated, reducing our shields by 1/16. Should we proceed to engage?" "Yes 121, continue, our shields will recharge when we rendezvous with the others." Aetius said.

    Captain Lucas saw the bright gold flash, and then the detonation of all 35 HORNET mines. Something had set them off, and their trap had failed. "Lieutenant, why is there still a glimmering, white ship coming out of the minefield?" The Captain asked. The Lieutenant was clearly confused. "It doesn't register as Covenant or UNSC. It's giving off a different code. One we've never seen before." The Leiutenant replied. The 11 Kilometer long Dreadnought was moving right toward them. It was shaped like…a blade, with a second one on top. And the top one was what appeared to be a cannon of some kind. In all scanners revealed it to be 11 Kilometers long, and hevaily shielded. The Supercarrier couldn't even survive 35 HORNET mines. But this took no damage at all, although it had obviously been in a combat situation recently. "Incoming transmssion from the ship. It's in Latin and has an Ancient Greek translation. I'm gonna put it through." The Transmission appeared on the screen. "Heus!" The sleekly armored figure in the Y visored helmet could tell the humans didn't understand. He said something to his AI in latin, who was similarly armored. "Hello, I am Commander Aetius, the lone survivor of the Forerunner Security Fleet. I happened to be drifting in the Asteroid belt over thare, where I have resided for the past 100,000 years. I decided to help you in your effort to defeat this foe, my fellow reclaimers. I need to have your ships, and your appearantly captured Sangheili ships, to dock with my Cruiser so we can engage the San 'Shyuum Coalition." Clearly he wanted to help them fight the covenant. But it could still be a trap. 3 sentinels were floating in the background. "I have one request commander," said Captain Lucas, "remove your helmet." The Forerunner Commander twisted it to the side, and pulled it off. He looked exactly like a human. But taller, and paler from being in that armor for so long. Captain Lucas ordered his ships to move toward the cruiser.
    Entrant 3 - Nefarious
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    And so I told Dad I didn't want...
    Sshhh
    No. That's not it.
    Shhh! Did you hear that?
    You mean you shushing me? Yeah. Clear as a...
    Shhh.
    Well, I was going to say bell but you...
    Would you please stop.
    But you're the one who keeps...Oww!
    For once in your life, stop talking and listen!
    To what?! The crushing of bones in my hand? Owwww!
    Damnit, James! Listen to the woods!
    Yeah. So?
    Don't you hear that rustling to the left?
    Of course I do. They're called leaves, Megan. And this is fall. I don't get what you're...
    Something is crunching them, smart ass. With it's feet. And it's getting closer!
    Aww, babe. It's probably just...what was that?!
    THAT, Mr. Aware-of-his-surroundings, is what I've been on about!
    It could be other hikers.
    Or a bear.
    Great, Megan. That's just great! Thanks for the visual!
    Perhaps now would be the opportune time to finally shhhhhhh!!
    The only remains were two hands locked in a death clinch, a shiny engagement ring on one and...
    Let go.
    Not now. Not after...
    Hey, folks! Ya'll seen a big yella labrador run through here? He caught a rabbit scent or sumthin' an' just bolted from the picnic.
    No, Sir. We did here some rustlin to the left, though.
    Let me see...Yep. HANK!! C'mere, ya goofball!
    PantPantLickPant
    Thanks, kids. Ya'll have a nice day.
    Hmm. Well that...
    I said LET GO!
    Awkward silence accompanied them to the parking lot.
    Last edited by Dance; May 11, 2013 at 09:23 AM.

  6. #26

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 99a - The New Year, "The Undiscovered Country"
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Winner - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    The drum of hooves was heard on the warm desert sand as the Sultan’s army marched forward to the village. Strangely though, as the army neared the village, no resistance was met. The Sultan grew worried; his spies had told him that the village had a full garrison of Crusaders ready to match his glory. After over-thinking the situation, he decided to move into the village. These Crusaders must be robbed of all their former glory he thought, they are just afraid of my omnipotent force!
    All of a sudden, the windows around them flung open as their gaze was met by dozens of crossbow bolts. The Sultan spun around to see half of his bodyguard lying on the ground with numerous, black bolts buried deep in their chests. “Fight back you cowards!” he yelled, “Purge these foul crows from their burrows, burn the village!”
    The Sultan spurred his horse, and through all the havoc ran back through the lines, with only a portion of his bodyguard with him, and his army slowly running into the city to help him. He was only a hundred yards away from the rest of his force, ready to melt away back into the relative safety of the mob; when suddenly hundreds of forms sprang up from the sand. His horse whinnied as hundreds of Crusaders, who were hidden in the sand with their yellow cloaks, sprang up with spears, ready to fight.
    Bloody hand-to-hand fighting ensued as the surrounded bodyguard fought with zeal to protect their Sultan. The rest of the force was only fifty meters away, so close to survival… The memories of his life flew past him, as the Sultan saw the bloodshed, with his faithful bodyguard reduced to only ten percent of its former numbers. Many members of his bodyguard were his childhood friends; the boys which he had grown up with in the safety of the palace, all dead at his feet. The Sultan drew his sword, and yelled with rage at this terrible sight. He hacked and slashed, killing five Crusaders near him. His army only meters away, ready to aid him; but before he could blink, he felt a surge of pain on his back. He felt his knees lose their former strength, as an extreme sense of burden mixed with pain lay upon him. He sunk down, his eyes blurred, as darkness slowly engulfed him. In the final seconds of his life, he saw a tall shadow step up to him. He saw the blurred form raise their arms and begin to move them down….
    The soldiers finally ran into the fray, only to see the head of their leader on the ground, surrounded by many corpses, in a growing pool of blood in the sandy streets. Instead of fighting, the Crusaders ran away from the force. In a rage, and to fulfill their dead leader’s revenge, the Sultan’s army ran through the city, burning every building.
    Entrant 1 - ♔Old Dragoon♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    No Greater Glory
    For two days they have held out against vast numbers from numerous tribes and nations. They have punished the invaders who thought they would overrun their small number. They showed their foe that a few men can stand up to many. They showed them what free men can do without the need of a whip or threat of death. No, the men to his left and right welcomed death as much as life, and no greater glory was gained by these men than to fight and die beside each other in the face of insurmountable odds. For two days…these Spartans had given Xerxes and his Persian horde of barbarians the greatest lesson they had ever known in warfare.

    It has been said that pride comes before a fall, and the Persian warriors who survived this battle learned this the hard way. There would be no glory for them or tales of their heroic deeds. Their memory would be how many they lost and how they died by the thousands against a mere handful of men compared to the size of their vast army.

    Knowing these truths on the third day, King Leonidas, though betrayed by a simple goat herder, Ephialtes, welcomed what was to befall him and his beloved 300. He knew this marching to the Hot Gates that this may be their last battle. He picked his 300 based on that they had sons to carry on the family name and their memory. Their memory of how they fought, how the loved, how they died, and how they lived! Though the sky had appeared that Hades himself was opening his gates for Leonidas welcomed his fate, and looked to his right and left once more.

    Then as the ‘faceless’ Immortals surrounded his men, Leonidas and the remains of his 300 fought with all that was in them that made them Spartans. Helmets came crashing down on skulls when swords and spears broke, and even tooth and nail was not forgotten. Then arrows from the Persian horde came down like thunderbolts, finished off many, and even struck King Leonidas. He cried out to his men one last time those that could still hear. His cry was one not of sorrow or pity, but how he was honoured to have lived with them. The remains of the 300 pulled there dead leader back from the enemy clutches several times before they too succumbed to the onslaught of arrows…till the memory of their glory would begin.

    "Go tell the Spartans passerby: That here by Spartan law, we lie."
    Entrant 2 - Borissomeone
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The hot humid air clings to my skin with sticky fingers, each one trying to slow my arm as we of The Fifth Legion battle with these gold clad warriors. Dappled sunlight dances on the armour of both sides as the wild flowers are painted with blood as the battle draws to an end. I forget myself, perhaps I should start at the beginning of this tale, and perhaps a little history is in order for we all know history is important in the telling of any tale. My name is Maximus and I am the commander of The Fifth. Once two thousand proud Legionarii, now reduced too a mere five hundred. The battles of The Lonely Hill fort and the chaos that followed the siege of Epirus have whittled away our numbers until only a quarter remain. We may be but five hundred, but what a force of men that treads the soil of Thera, each man born from the blood of the fallen, each man tested and unbroken.

    You wonder how men of the Romuli have come to battle with such alien warriors. Well as I said I will tell the tale from the beginning. The Fifth had been in pursuit of the remains of the Reptarii army that had tried to lay siege to the city of Arretium. Their forces had shattered on the walls as the combined might of the Romuli had slaughtered the green skins as they tried in vein to gain a foot hold on the walls. The chase had lead to a mist shrouded valley, the Reptarii had seemed to melt into the gloom, one moment their spicy stench had been fouling the air and the next it was gone. From gloom to bright sunlight, from the chill of the mist to the heat of this place, one army draped in gold the other clad in the red of the Legions.

    A brief moment of confusion until the gold ones had started to form up and ready for battle. We are out numbered by these strange men as they surge forward, but short blasts from our horns see the men ready to meet the charge. Closer they come until we can see the detail of their golden armour; a bellow and the pila are flung. The first few ranks of the enemy are cut down by the missiles as we ready for the clash of weapon on weapon. Closer still and I can see the whites of their eyes. Again the horns ring out and The Fifth move forward and start the killing rhythm that only the legions of the Romuli know. The ranks rotate as fresh men move forward, the heat of the day making each sweat a river as they continue to battle. Another order is bellowed over the battle field, the men surge forward pushing the enemy back a few paces and then with practiced ease step back as they reel. Pila rain down into the golden hoard or now less of a hoard and more a collection of warriors growing more desperate as the battle turn’s in our favour.

    As the sun traces our shadows over the gore soaked field of trampled flowers they turn and run. Horns raise their calls to the blue dome above and the men of The Fifth continue the slaughter. As they run I, with only the skill of years of conflict could bring, cut down one men as he tries to flee, his golden form dropping into the churned ground. Many of the enemy now lay in the grass, looking like fallen leaves from an autumn tree. The fight is over for now as the cries of the wounded start to sing in the hot humid air. Turning back the valley we had left it is somehow gone, perhaps this fight is won, but the battle for survival has just begun.
    Entrant 3 - ♔Oggie♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    It was chaos. Arrows fell out of the sky and formed a deathly rain killing soldiers left and right. Dead men lay everywhere and the screams of the wounded filled the air. The grass was covered with blood and the sound of colliding metal was overpresent. It was every man for himself now. There would be no help, no mercy, you had to face the enemy alone.

    A soldier came towards me, it was the enemy. His sword and armour were covered with blood. He was looking for a new prey and he found one, me. The soldier charged towards me, his sword held high ready to cut deep into my flesh. I watched as he came closer. My mind was empty, I had no feelings. It was just me and him. I blocked his sword when he got to me and tried to stab him. The soldier avoided my sword and while I moved forward hit me with his shield against the side of my helmet. I was temporarily stunned and he prepared himself for the final blow. I saw in slow motion how he took his sword above his head, ready to cut me down. Everything was quiet, no screams, no colliding metal, nothing. I looked him right in the eye. I had accepted my death.

    Suddenly he dropped his sword and stood frozen. His mouth opened and let out a cry full of pain. A sword stuck out of his chest. I saw the life disappear out of his eyes. Then he collapsed.
    Entrant 4 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Six months ago, as I left all I had ever known, I could not even fathom what I now stand here gazing upon today. My life began on the streets of Dublin, where I remained for 20 years, picking up scraps not even fit for a rat, and even getting into fights over them. I remember when the redcoats came and cleaned the streets, sent us off to orphanages. But I escaped, I returned to the streets, Lord knows why. After twenty years of hard living, carefully earning money from the most hellish of jobs and subsequently frittering it all away on drinks and assorted ladies of the night, I saw a ship. This ship was the most majestic ship I had ever seen, her clean deck awash with a flurry of activity as men prepared to make sail. Her gold paint sparkling with dew in the shining light slowly peeking over the horizon. And I stood there, watching as deckhands greeted the Bosun, as the captain, in a splendid uniform stood perched on the poop watching his crew with a sense of delight only seen in men as they watch their sons. I began walking toward the ship with a wide gait, I feet hundreds of eyes slowly come upon me, wondering who this stranger was. As I reached the ship I was seized by a Marine. "Stop" a stern, yet kindly voice shouted. It was the captain, "Who are you?" I had been frozen unable to speak anything but a long, slow "um, ah..." "Well, Um Ahh, are you seeking employment?" The captain asked. I shook my head, dumbfounded at the prospect of leaving Ireland, and being able to touch this beautiful ship. I ventured aboard to begin my new life on this ship bound for America. I was to become a clerk, and I was taught to read in the first three weeks of my new emplyoment. This life was paradise, at least, until the fifth week.

    It became hell. As we neared America, and the storms constantly assailed our boat. Each day we would lose an upwards of five men, cast into the unforgiving seas. As we neared Cape Cod, our destination, the ship racked violently. Men were spilled overboard into their death by Neptune, an ungodly sound could be heard as our ship moved forward. It was rocks. Our hull had been torn away, we were sinking. I massive wave was cast upon the deck, taking my feet from under me, and I was cast into the raging seas. The net morning was calm. The ship was gone, and I saw nobody left. I took hold of a piece of wood, and just paddled for shore: my only hope of life. Not three hours later was I hoisted out of the water by benevolent fishermen, I decided that I should now begin yet another life, one in America.

    When I arrived in Boston, I had nothing, it looked as if my life was to go the same way it had in Dublin. I would do odd jobs and fritter away my money, no way for a man to live as I look back on it. But there was one thing different: I was free. Free from the tumultuous struggles of the old world, from the yolk of the monarchy, Here I was free do let my vices control me, or put them behind, which is exactly what I did. I worked for another month, but saved my money. I bought food and supplies, and met several other men doing the same thing. We pooled our resources and marched west: into the undiscovered country. Now I stand here, on the other side of the Mississippi river, gazing out over this beautiful land, with its unending skies, filled with birds of every kind, dotted with puffs of clouds; Majestic rivers, their water providing the livliehood for the few who have decided to live here, and crowded with such numbers of fish that it is difficult to calculate; The seas of grass, waving across the prarie, and crisscrosed by Buffalo and native alike; and immaculate mountains, guardians of freedom, standing tall gazing down upon the whole of the nation, with their snow capped peaks filling the horizon. As I gaze forward, I know that this is a land of freedom, though undiscovered it may be. I look back to my partners, and continue forward. As I make my step I continue to explore this undiscovered country.
    Entrant 5 - Hross
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Three keels cut the whale road’s emerald and silver streams
    Crested by the serpentine prow and at the head Hengest
    Wretch, exile, oathbreaker and son of the son of the gods
    Woeful deeds that set him at sword’s edge with his master
    The guile and deceit of the Frisian king, vengeance
    Is best delivered swift and not left to rot in the bosom
    He repaid that gift in kind, bathed the royal hall in blood
    Left Finnsburgh burning and breathing dark into the evening sky
    Left his love then, that widowed queen and with his kin sailed west
    Those honourable men, pledged in life and death to their lord
    Whatever fate was his. Like true brothers unto him, like Horsa
    His flesh and blood, at the bow of the second ship, raised fist
    In the gale and brine, ‘We shall carve our path anew!’

    The low, wide flats of the strand were scarred by the boats
    Dragged ashore by 200 Jutes and Half-Danes bedecked in byrnies
    Hands hardened to the cold Seax and the iron frost patterned
    On those well-smithed blades. The hall of Vortigern
    Had never looked upon their like, the cross of the king
    Looked ill upon the hammer of Thunor and their red runes.
    These men of the north with the grey sea in their eyes
    The last hope for the land, with the golden day of Rome
    Past, once lit by glow of eagle standard and glimmer of coin
    The people now orphaned, their old masters abandoned
    Them to the storm of ages, to steer by their own stars.
    What glory then, with these Ænglisc shields to parry the cuts
    Levelled against the Britons, fending off Pict, Scot and those
    Kin of the defenders. But Hengest’s glory was robbed and made
    Vortigern’s crown. Bitterly the Jutes laid their barrows on a wretched isle
    The only soil their masters granted in their ungrateful hour
    Thanatos, place of the dead, was to be their home- but no!
    Horsa tred out, fist forward against the royal red host
    Set to rights those who had betrayed their service
    “What unworthy lords these Britons are to make a mockery
    Of the blood we have spilt in this soil, have we not earned
    A home upon these green hills as much as you?
    Our children have now grown like the corn in your fields
    Bound to this land by love and life, owing to our dead
    What peace is yours is ours given in good faith
    We call you out to pay the weregild or let the gods
    Take from you that which your injustice withholds.”

    As answer came a spear and pierced the heart of Horsa
    That White Horse of his people, laid low, lifeblood
    Gushing into the moist earth our mother. Not long
    Wept the Jutes, swift like lightning scythed the seax
    A Night of Long Knives to trample underfoot the flower
    Of old Britain, Wēalas and Roman alike. The Tyrian purple
    Soaked now in crimson under Stone Henge’s shadow.

    A time of fire then, thrown west the Frankish axe into the gates
    Of Arthur’s court. Long years the Angles stood pressed upon the foe,
    Within eight lives of men, the land was again softly spoken
    In the wind beneath the Easter sun, smiled then the goddess
    On that goodly spring of Hengest’s sons. From Kent to Caer Luel
    The English tongue was heard, words rang out in song of the elder days
    A dawn of three keels on a cold sea towards an undiscovered country.



    Entrant 6 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Undiscovered Country



    Men had spoken of a land of great riches lost in the vast wildernesses of the Americas. A land where houses are covered turquoise and where even the poorest child wears great jewels drinks from golden cups. A land where a man could win great riches and undying fame if he were courageous and lucky enough to find it. Men had spoken of the Cities of Gold.

    How had it come to this then?

    A glorious expedition of 600 brave Spaniards seeking these Golden Cities reduced to a handful of leaderless men lost in the wilderness, desperately hiding in whatever cover they could find as arrows and spears rained overhead.

    I was one of those desperate men hiding behind a large rock praying that the next arrow would miss me as I looked around at scene before me. I had joined this expedition on hearing the tales of riches to be won. However, it seemed as if it was doomed from the outset, facing tropical storms even before we made landfall. After landing things didn’t get any better as disease, starvation and ambushes by the native tribes all took their toll. It was after our leader’s death and as we retreated to our ships that this latest ambush occurred.

    Men and horses lay around dead or wounded stuck with arrows fired from hidden natives. I fumbled with sweaty hands as I tried to load my musket. First the powder getting more on the ground than in the barrel, next the ball, down the barrel at the 2nd attempt, then ram it down. Finally I was ready to fire back. Looking around the edge of the rock, however, I couldn’t spot anyone. Then suddenly it seemed as if a horde of screaming natives had appeared out nowhere. I lifted my musket to the shoulder, picked a target, aimed and squeezed the trigger.

    This would my last stand in this undiscovered country.


    TotW 100a - Just one more question
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Winner
    - chaplain118
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “The entire legion is falling back behind the Wall. That’s it, this war is over, at least for us.”
    The Centurion smiled at his men. The grim realities of the conquest of Caledonia, or as the
    men themselves called it, the Hopeless War, has come to its fruition. Ambition abroad was
    finally checked by prudence at home. By daybreak the first column of men would begin the
    journey home, it was a day decades in the coming. Many of the men were born in the very legion
    camps. Some had never even heard of a world south of the Wall. But the men whom the
    Centurion commanded were not such men. They had enlisted willingly, had abandoned the
    comfortable lives of the interior and headed to the frontier. They had wives, children, and parents
    behind the Wall whom they protected. They had farmlands, taverns, and a myriad of other
    professions that many in the legion did not understand. They were true citizens, and the
    Centurion was neither better nor worse than them in civilian life.

    When the sun had set for the last time over the ramparts of the Wall, the camp erupted in
    gossip. Who was going first, who would be left to cover the retreat. But gradually the talk turned
    southward, towards home. Whose children have grown up? Whose parents have passed on?
    Whose wives had been faithful, and whose have not been? More importantly, what will each
    man do with the land promised to him and to what ordinary trades will they return to?

    A baker, in southern Deva, and you can all come for bread. The dole-eyed Marcus smiled
    over the fire. A boy when he first enlisted, now a battle-hardened veteran with more scars than fingers.
    The others laughed with him. He seemed more at ease with a sword in hand than kneading dough.
    But they’ll visit, they said, and they’ll each bring him a copper coin for payment
    of all the money he lost to them in dice games.

    Farmer, always a farmer. My son’ll be six years old now. Haven’t even seen the runt yet.
    I’ll teach him to grow wheat, to grow barley, and plow the fields like a man. Publius said from
    behind his beard. His one good eye was almost opaque from the constant wind. You can hardly
    see, they said, how will you know he’s even your son? He punched two men square in the face
    and said. Still could see you couldn’t I?

    Long road for me. All the way home to Bibracte. Saved up enough money to buy my
    parents a nice country house now in addition to my land grant. No more living like barbarians in
    a hut. They’ll live like proper Romans. Aventinus stoked the fire and a piece of ember snapped
    in the air, landing on his snow-white skin. The rest nodded in respect. Now there was a good lad,
    some said. Others patted him on the back.

    The talk of home stretched into the night until Hesperus dangled above the eastern
    ramparts and Dawn had painted the sky a rosy hue. The Centurion listened to all of his men talk
    and he smiled at the thought of his home. A bride waited for him, and from that union would
    come several children who would bear his name and serve the country just as he has.
    No point sleeping now, they all muttered in agreement, new day’s dawned and we’re
    going home. Home, thought the Centurion as he looked at his men. Brothers all. Eighty strong
    when they first joined, now whittled down to thirty-five. He would miss them all. But more so
    missed were the ones who did not celebrate this final night on the frontier. The muster trumpet
    never sounded so sweet, so alluring. Like a Siren it called them to the square and they gathered
    like boys on the eve of the Lupercalia, eagerly awaiting their fellow celebrants.
    Each centurion stepped forward and numbered the men under his command. He listened
    with a heavy heart as the numbers were read out. Twelve men in the first century, twenty in the
    second, and so on and so forth. By the end of muster, he found himself with the most men under
    his command.


    Centurion. The legate touched his shoulder. He felt a chill in his heart. The legate always
    touched someone’s shoulder when giving bad news. Are you ready to go home?

    “Yes sir.”

    The legate nodded and said nothing. The Centurion knew what he was about to ask and
    he could not refuse. He turned his apologetic eyes to his men and saw nothing but obedience.
    Good boys, he fought back the tears. All of them heroes. We’ll go home yet.

    We’re with you sir. They said. He nodded, wishing that they had cursed him instead.

    Cover the legion’s back, wait for the trumpet’s call to retreat. We’ll call for you when it’s
    all over.

    He nodded with his men. They returned to their tents. Some sharpened swords, others
    prayed to their gods, still others ambled about, their talks turning back to home. Each one’s story
    was the same, yet each one’s story was different. The sun climbed higher in the sky. The
    Centurion wondered how many would see it rise the next day.

    The trumpet wailed. The call for defense. They knew the music and they knew their
    steps. Like dancers who practiced their entire lives, the thirty-five and the Centurion stepped out
    of their tents and watched their companions walk the opposite way. The retreating men were
    smiling and laughing, but some watched those who stayed behind and nodded gravely. Some
    uttered words of thanks.

    Nothing to it, brother, they said. We’ll see you behind the Wall and we’ll all go home.

    They stood outside of the walls of the camp and saw the unwashed horde gathering
    towards them. A little over two hundred, no more. They laughed at the number. They had faced
    far worse and survived to speak of it. This will be easy, they reassured the Centurion. We’ll go
    home yet.

    The first of the barbarians approached. A monster of a man, standing at least a head taller
    than the rest. He held a head whose blood still steamed in the cold. His words were lost amidst
    the jeers and cries, but the soldiers knew the contents of his speech. They had heard the same
    threat again and again over the years.

    “Pila ready!” Thirty-five spears will crash against the unwashed masses, then thirty-five
    more. But it would not halt the hundreds. The fire in their eyes did not dim but grew brighter and
    the prospect of triumphing over the enemy.

    “Draw swords!” Pressed against the wall, nowhere else to go now. Where was the
    retreating trumpet? Could it have been drowned out by the sound of the battle? His men still
    fought on, a mountain of corpses soon piled before them. But they soon grew wearied and tired.
    Their movements became languid and their reaction dulled by fatigue. Then Aventinus was cut
    down, and with him his hopes of a country home for his parents. Then fell Publius and his son
    would never know his father. Marcus plunged headfirst, biting bloody clods of dirt, his bakery
    would remain empty. And so fell many others until only sixteen remained by the Centurion.

    Have we missed it? They cried as swords clanged against shields. Have they called for
    us? They shouted amongst shrieks. The Centurion couldn’t answer.

    I hear it! I hear it! said Pisenius, who bore his family’s fortunes solely on his broad
    shoulders. But there was dissent even then. Some said no while others nodded yes. Tears welled
    up in the Centurion’s eyes. Had they all agreed, they could leave now. But fortune would not
    favor these bold men, the Fates would not lead them to salvation. The barbarians retreated and
    the soldiers stood arguing.

    Centurion! I heard it! By the gods of Olympus, by the black Acheron itself, I heard it!
    Rufus shook his shoulder, face wet with tears and blood. Please, I heard it. We have to go now.
    Think of your bride! If not her then think of our families and us. Think of our mothers who stay
    up endless nights weeping, our fathers whose hair grows white from worry! I heard it!

    “Manius.” The Centurion called to his second-in-command. “Did you hear it? Your word
    will be as good as mine.”

    The man paused and thought. All eyes were upon him and he knew he held the lives of
    the sixteen remaining men in his hands.

    You heard it too, Manius! Rufus cried. I know you heard it.

    You heard it, thought the Centurion, silently urging the man. In the distance he saw the
    enemy amassing. They swarmed over the land like ants disturbed from their hill.

    No. I didn’t hear anything.

    You fool! You might as well have killed us all! Tears ran down Rufus’ face. No man
    disagreed with him. But the order had been given, and they were still soldiers before anything
    else. They would continue to fight, even unto death.

    Maybe we should say our last words. They said. Maybe we should save the bodies of our
    brothers. A murmur of agreement rose. The enemy swarmed ever closer.

    They worked quickly despite their tiredness. Hands rough from combat gingerly tended
    to the fallen bodies and placed them in the ditch around camp. They placed coins in the corpses’
    mouths and threw dirt over the bodies.

    Hail and farewell brothers. They said. We’ll meet again on the fields of Elysium.
    When no more coins were left, the Centurion ripped the medals from his chest and placed
    them in the hands of the fallen.

    “The gods will understand,” he said to his men. Their tired hands pushed earth upon the
    bodies and the enemy swarmed closer still. He took his final medal and broke it into pieces.
    “Keep this in your mouths. The ferryman will accept this toll.”

    Centurion. They said. But he would not hear their arguments and forced each to place the
    piece in their mouths. He ripped the plumes from his helmet so that he looked no different from
    them. He saw their tears and reprimanded them.

    “Dry your tears. The battle is not yet won. Fight with me, men, fight on to death.”

    And so they fought and so they fell. He was the last among them standing, his back
    pressed against the wall of the camp as the barbarians swarmed to and fro. He still have not
    heard the retreat call from the trumpet. When he fell, it was not from wounds but from fatigue.
    But he was spared by the barbarians, who previously seemed to know not such mercy. He
    awoke to the stench of death, to the bloated bodies and the carrion birds that have grown fat from
    feeding. The camp was destroyed and the barbarians have left. He found his soldiers and each
    one of them was left where they died, their dignity still intact. And so he labored, digging one
    grave after another. When his sword grew dull from digging, he dug with his hands until blood
    seeped from under his nails. He buried them with honors, placing their broken swords upon the
    bodies. He knew not if the ferryman would truly accept these as payment, but he would not cease
    his work. Many times he fainted from exhaustion, and many time he woke thinking he had heard
    the trumpet call.

    When his deed was done, he turned back south, to home. A day and a half of travel on
    foot and he found himself at the foot of the Wall. The lone sentry asked him for the password but
    he did not know it. How could he? And so he was spurned from home and left to wander the
    merciless Caledonian land. He traced his steps along the wall, feeling each familiar groove,
    remembering that this was built by his men and defended by his men. With each step he wept
    until he could weep no more. His beard grew and by the time he found a gap in the wall, he
    looked every bit a barbarian.

    He had no money for a shave or new clothes. He had no medals to prove his rank, and
    even the plumes of his helmet had flitted away in the winds. He forgot his name, forgot his
    home, but remembered his rank and remembered his men. Others asked him where to go and he
    could only recall one place: Londinium, where he enlisted, where his men enlisted. He would
    fight for their payment for service. Aventinus’ parents will live in a country home, Publius’ son
    will have farmlands to plow, and Marcus’ bakery would have a field to harvest wheat from to
    make into bread.

    It took him years to reach Londinium, and when he arrived he could hardly speak a word
    of civilized tongue.

    We can’t help you. They said. That legion was disbanded years ago. Go to Rome and
    petition the Emperor directly. We can’t help you.

    He would not give up. He could not give up. How else would those men be remembered?
    How else would their family be recompensed? He wandered the interior of the empire for years,
    riding on illegal caravans and traveling with bandits until he found himself at the city of Rome.
    But he found himself between one bureaucratic nightmare after another. He needed to show
    official documentation of him being centurion. A medal would do. They said. He needed the
    enlistment papers for the men he was trying to redeem. That legion was disbanded for desertion.
    The bureaucrats said matter-of-factly. No member of that legion would receive recompensation
    unless due proof was shown that they were part of the century that stayed behind and fought on
    as the rest ran. He wanted to cry. Those were my men! He shouted at them. But they dismissed
    him as a lunatic and set their slaves upon him with clubs. My men. They laughed. He doesn’t
    even remember his own name. Get out of here and don’t come back again!

    He stood on the bridge looking over the Tiber and remembered the story of Horatius.
    How a man defended a retreating army and was honored as a hero of Rome. His men did the
    same did they not? Why were they considered traitors, deserters? What had earned them this
    black fate? He asked the raging river below him and received no answer. Days passed and he
    remained rooted at the spot, asking the same question over and over again. Passer-bys glanced at
    him with unease but he did not notice.

    A new question emerged in his mind. Had he heard the retreat call? So many of his men
    had heard it, hadn’t they? What if he had simply missed it? What if Manius had missed it? Did
    he doom his men because of a single mistake?

    His eyesight grew worse by the day from the weeping and he was nearly blind. But still
    he remained at the spot, torturing himself with questions.

    Is something the matter? A voice asked him one day. Unsure if it was real or not, he
    poured out his story, of his men who died in the line of duty, of the unjust bureaucrats who
    refused to believe him, and of his own questions. A pair of hands picked him up and the voice
    assured him that his men’s family would be recompensed. He merely needed to list their names.
    He did and the voice listened.

    Do you know who I am?

    He did not answer.

    I am Caesar, Emperor of the Roman people. Your tales have not gone unheard,
    Centurion-- The voice waited for a name, but the Centurion could not summon one.

    “I’m just a Centurion, nothing more.”

    So be it. And the voice left.

    Days passed and he was led by rough hands before the voice that had reached out to him.
    They were going to Brittania, the voice said. They were going to find his men and recognize
    them as heroes of Rome as they deserved to be known.

    He would’ve cried with joy if he had tears left.

    He led them through the land that he had spent so long fighting over, over each hill and
    every defile. His blindness was of no consequence. He remembered the land and the land
    remembered him. He could hear the whispers of his soldier like guides telling him where to go.

    “Right here.” He pointed at the ground. The dark mass around him was almost
    indistinguishable, but he could still recognize the distant mountain peaks. He knew he was
    exactly where he had stood all those years ago.

    It’s been fifteen years, Centurion. Are you certain? The Emperor asked.

    He nodded.

    So be it.

    And then he heard it. The sound of the retreat call. The sonorous note soared above the
    peaks, over the valleys, and through the trees that had grown upon the former battlefield. Its
    sweet melody filled the air and he trembled at the beauty of the note.

    Centurion. They called. His soldiers had come back to him. He was himself again fifteen
    years ago, standing with his men, each one ready to go home. They smiled at him and held out
    their hands, beckoning him to join them. He smiled back.

    “We’re going home, men. We’re going home.”
    Entrant 1 - Nanny de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Journals of Lt. Columbo January 22nd, 1810

    From the Special Provost report on the Death of Colonel McConkey
    prepared by Lt Columbo


    (excerpts from page 15...the previous pages are inexplicably missing)

    ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ reporting to Wellington ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ from intelligence branch ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓.

    Major Smythe: I will offer you any assistance I can in this matter, Lieutenant Columbo.

    Myself: Well I do appreciate you taking the time Major.

    Major Smythe: Although, I'm not sure of what assistance I may be...as I was miles away at Castelo de Vide when the Colonel was murdered.

    Myself: Well, see, that's just 'da ting here. I gets confused and flustered and sometimes I forget my notes, so I had better check...

    Major Smythe: Take your time Lieutenant...

    Myself: Ah yes! Here we are...do you ever do that Major? Just forget where everything is? Yes I'm sure you do, having so many responsibilities and all...

    Major Smythe: ...

    Myself: But anyways, just looks at me ramblin' like a groom on his weddin' night about to -

    Major Smythe: Lieutentant, please...

    Myself: Yes, of course major. Da ting is, I'm not exactly clear on what you were doing off in Castelo de Vide. You said previously...let me just see here, gotta put on my spectacles...that you were there on a personal matter. May I ask what that might have been?

    Major Smythe: Well if you must know Lieutenant, I was engaged with a whore. Specifically, we ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓, and then she ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓. But once she ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓, I ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ chicken feathers. Judge me if you will, but I do not care to have to explain my soldierly vices...it would require me to talk at length about myself, and that is a little indulgent, don't you think Lieutenant Columbo?

    Myself: Most people could sit and listen to somebody talking about their personality for hours - Lord knows I could, sir.

    Major Smythe: ...

    Myself: Well sir, I'm not one to judge, I can't claim to be the perfect husband myself. My wife says I'm the second-best, and she claims there are eighty men tied for first.

    Major Smythe: I'm sure.

    Myself: There is still just one thing bothering me Major, something that is stuck in my head that I can't quite put my finger on, kindof like when my britches ride up deep into my -

    Major Smythe: Lieutenant! Really sir, I must protest!

    Myself: You are right Major you are right, sometimes I just lose my mind a bit, and forget where I am, or where I was supposed to be, or even where I said I was but I wasn't...

    Major Smythe: ...

    Myself: So that thing I can't quite figure, is how your footprint was found in the mud beside the body? I mean, it is the same shoe size, and if I may Major you have feet larger than most around here...tell me, is what they say true, that big feet means -

    Major Smythe: Mister Columbo! Control yourself sir!!!

    Myself: Oh I apologize Major, I was just curious is all, I'm sure that village whore could provide testimony to that, although I'm not sure it is dat important to my investigation...

    Major Smythe: (ahem)

    Myself: Well Major, I do appreciate your time here, I'm very sorry to take you from your duties, all this a formality but of course protocol must be followed.

    Major Smythe: Of course Lieutenant. Now, if you please, I will just -

    Myself: There's just one more thing, sir.

    Major Smythe: Lieutenant, with you there's never really "just one more thing."

    Myself: You don't mind if I ask you a personal question, do you?

    Major Smythe: No.

    Myself: What'd you pay for those boots?

    Major Smythe: Come again?

    Myself: Is that what the village jezebel -

    Major Smythe: Lieutenant!!!

    Myself: What did you pay for those boots? I only ask because while some others may have your same boot size, I think no one else in the regiment has boots with the Redbock engraving in the heel, as yours do? And mighty fine riding boots they are sir, but the coin it costs to acquire such boots...? And custom size at that...? Indeed they would be very rare. And it so happens that the print at the scene ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ ▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓▓ (the remainder of the journal has been removed)
    Entrant 2 - Nefarious
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Just one more question...


    "Who are you?"
    The aging reporter made his way down the line of cardboard shelters, indifferently making his way down the line of standard questions. But such an assignment by the magazine's new editor was Peter's chance to re-establish himself. If he could bring in a solid story, perhaps his own would be changed.
    Alcoholism, foreclosure, divorce. They all conspired to undermine his self-worth. Peter knew who he used to be and was clearly resentful competing publications saw fit to make his woes public knowledge. A former editor himself, he loathed being back in the trenches. It stunk, literally.

    "What happened that brought you to this point?"
    Varying tales from the varying unfortunates began filling his recorder. One man in a military jacket only stared and grinned. Feeling very uncomfortable near the man, Peter sensed his ears growing numb. The chill of the alley wind was probably the cause. Or, perhaps it was the indifference in his heart. That indifference is why Cindy left, he remembered her saying. Surely his ex wife's sheltered existence as a home-maker imbued her with the insight to make such a judgment. Unable to suppress his sarcasm, Peter blamed it on TV talk shows. Audiences of women had time to dress nicely, go to a studio in the middle of the day, clap at mundane observations, cheer at male-bashing, ad nauseam. Cindy had obviously succumbed to their rhetoric and transferred it on him. At least that's how Peter saw things, lately. Bitter seemed such an understatement.

    "When did you end up here?"
    A fair question. After all, he had lost his home as well. Yet Peter was never on the streets. There was always enough to get a room, then an efficiency, and now a new apartment with new furniture.
    He thought there must be an exact point when one becomes homeless.
    A moment in time.
    An exact time.
    Time... Peter paused the recorder and couldn't remember the last time he felt so low. Different moments competed for the title:
    Last summer when Cindy changed the locks.
    Last winter when he arrived at work to find his desk items boxed and moved.
    Last month when his visiting daughter lifted his head off the toilet.
    Countless others could have been Peter's moment.

    "Where are your friends and family?"
    Good question, the grisly news veteran thought. Just not a comfortable one. And for the first time that afternoon, Peter actually listened to the responses. Many called their alley neighbors their family. Others were running from the very people who should have protected them. That veteran in the military jacket, still grinning, pointed at Peter. "You're my family, Doc. And I love you, brother."

    "Why?"
    Seemingly unanswerable, Peter pondered this question back in his apartment. That man. He obviously had mental issues. Something was off. Something was...the jacket! That worn jacket and calling him Doc! And those eyes.
    Oh, those eyes...
    Tears began streaming down Peter's face as long-suppressed memories flooded forward. He remembered last seeing those piercing eyes looking up from a stretcher on a Huey. A former Navy medic, the reporter had seen far too many Marines looking up from far too many stretchers. And those now-familiar eyes had somehow survived.
    The confusion and guilt were overwhelming. Somehow, that Marine had lived. And ol' Doc should have felt proud. Yet guilt flooded his heart, imagining what life the grinning man had probably lived and what life he, himself, had selfishly thrown away. The wounded, homeless vet grinned all that cold afternoon whilst Peter was consumed with his own self-induced problems.

    Shaving in the mirror the following morning, Peter looked deep into his own eyes and pondered just one more question.




    "How can I help?"
    Entrant 3 - Legio
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Strewn about the fields before him the man could see wildflowers. Here was a posy. Here was a lily. And here.....a white bud with creamy petals that seemed to sag in the wind. A white bud. Forgiveness. The man strode to the flowers as fast as he could, cursing as he went. Insolent little things, hogging the sunshine as they pleased, growing beautiful even as they aged, and beloved by all who saw them! He tore as many from their stem as he could, ripping into the rich earth with his rugged hands. This went on for what seemed like days, and finally the man collapsed in the shallow hole he had dug, the soil around his face wet with his tears.

    It had only been three months. Three months since....that.

    The sun's rays seemed to bathe him in a pinkish light. Pink! Of all colors! It was almost laughable, and in his emaciated state the man allowed himself a grim chuckle. Ragged, unshaven, with grubby teeth, and covered with glory. Veteran of a hundred battles, conqueror of seven cities, and still a slave. And to whom was this great general entwined with? With whom did he wish to ensconce himself at that very moment? A god damn youth, more than a third his age and yet with a bushier beard than his own. Pah. It would have to remain that way. He was in the fields here and his other was in the city; reveling in the attention of a woman, no doubt. Was this another tear rolling down the man's cheek?

    No.

    Finally, the man got up, pocketing one of the flowers as he did so. They were the only Forgiveness he would see for a while.
    Entrant 4 - ♔Old Dragoon♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Last Horizon

    This is an excerpt translated from accounts of Lt. Columbo-san preferred investigator for Dutch occupied Formosa Spring 1632. A formal interview was conducted by Lt. Columbo concerning the failed assassination attempt on Pieter Nuyts, and the murder of 2 servants. Tokugawa Tadanaga and attendant are being held for questioning on one of the many splendid beaches on Formosa. Columbo’s personal guard stands at the watch. Columbo is dressed in disheveled cloak with cigar in hand, and Tokugawa in his finest armor with sword

    Columbo-san - Pardon me Tokugawa (Tadanaga)-san you are the son of the famous shogun Tokugawa Hidetada are you not sir?

    Tokugawa-san – Of course! You should bow before me Columbo-san!

    Columbo-san – You know you are right…But you are in Formosa sir, and Japanese customs don’t apply here…

    Tokugawa-san – Spare me your sarcasm Columbo-san…I am in no mood. Proceed with this farce or allow me to exit.

    Columbo-san - Of course…I just have a couple of things then you will indeed exit sir. I must make mention of your attire sir. It is absolutely stunning to say the least. Must have taken a long time to manufacture I would guess?

    Tokugawa-san – I am not sure what my armor has to do with the questioning but yes it was hand made by my father’s finest craftsmen.

    Columbo-san – It is also very comfortable looking. Your sword is handmade with the same care I presume. Are there any deep pockets?

    Tokugawa-san – It is very much! It is the extension of the samurai’s soul. Together they are one…understand? I don’t know what you mean by pockets?

    Columbo-san - I’m trying to for certain. We’ll get back to the pockets in a moment. How many do samurai carry?

    Tokugawa-san – What? Carry what?

    Columbo-san – Oh…I am sorry…very sorry sir. I mean how many swords do samurai generally carry?

    Tokugawa-san – Well we carry two honorably! The katana and the wakizashi.

    Columbo-san – Indeed…well isn’t that something?

    Tokugawa-san – What? What is something?

    Columbo-san – Oh…well there I go again. Do forgive me. I am losing my manners. Well let me have a puff on my cigar here. Ok you see I always have two cigars and I know that because I’m smoking one right now and holding it with my fingers here. The other one is in my cloak pocket here…

    Tokugawa-san – Please get to your point!

    Columbo-san – Now bare with me…I assure you that there is a point in this. OK now you say you carry two swords yet I only count 1 on your person unless you have a pocket somewhere on that armor? Which you said you didn’t understand pockets. Now you see my pocket….right?

    Tokugawa-san - Of course. I have no such thing on my attire that could hide a sword. I assure you. Yes about my missing sword. It was stolen by some despicable peasant. Maybe that will help you and maybe you should question whoever took my wakizashi.

    Columbo-san - OK…you know I never thought of that! Thank you for that. But there is just one thing… May I look at your sword?

    Tokugawa-san – ***extremely irritated*** Columbo-san only for a moment for your inquiry, and please be careful.

    Columbo-san - ***hands back katana*** Very, very nice, and I did find your wakizashi. It was found in the garden with blood stains all over it I’m afraid.***Guard comes forward with short sword same design and detail as the katana***

    Tokugawa-san – That proves nothing! I said it was stolen last night!

    Columbo-san - Yes you did. You did indeed. But there is just one more thing! You see the wakizashi, like your katana has a secret compartment in the hilt. Now your katana has nothing in there, but your wakizashi had a small vile of a rather toxic poison called tetrodotoxin, found in puffer fish. However, thankfully it had lost its potency and only made the governor very sick. But the two servants…

    Tokugawa-san – The governor is alive?!

    Columbo-san – Oh yes very much so… and now you didn’t know the case of his health or lack there of now sir… What is that honour code that you samurai hold so dearly? You know when you have done something or failed at something.

    Tokugawa-san – ***Runs and grabs his wakizashi and rams it in his heart***

    Columbo-san - ***Turns to Tokgawa-san’s attendant*** Oh and just one more thing...
    Entrant 5 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Right foot, Left Foot, Right foot, Left foot
    These are the only words that I can think of as I slowly saunter up to my place, 10 feet from my opponant. I stop, and stand, staring straight forwardinto the eyes of my opponant. the world stands still, save for the constant drizzle of the cold rain as it deflects of of my armor, as an arrow to the white man's armor. My opponant stares back, there will be no backing down. As I come to this realization A scowl slowly envelopes my face as the wind whips through the tall grass, howling at us, mocking us for our honor. But it is our honor, and our Honor, my Honor, I must defend. My opponent stands erect, a mocking look on his face as he calmly glances from side to side, almost admiring the beauty of our surroundings. He moves suddenly, my hand flies to my Katana. His movement was not that of an agressor, his movements become more deliberate as he sidles over to the flowers beside us. His picks on and, after smelling it, says to me "I have picked this flower before its time. No one else may now admire its beauty. I ask you, do not force me to do the same to you. I do not reply, I have made my choice, I will fight. My honor is worth more than my life, and if I do not defend it, then all is lost. "Very Well" he says.

    His hand moves and in a flash he has brought his Katana to bear. He is a menacing sight, His armor a dark red, almost as if it had been colored with the blood of those who had opposed him in the past. But I hope to put his swordsmanship to rest on this day. I place my hand defiantly upon my Katana and draw it. He lunges forward, and in a flash our swords clash. The sound of scraping metal is supplemented with the defeaning boom of Thunder, the storm is getting worse. He lunges again to my right, and I parry left, losing my balance on the slippery ground. He raises his sword high above his head, and brings it down in one swoop. I try to vainly stick my sword up to block the crushing blow, but my attempt fails, His Katana slices into my leg, leaving a deep gash. I raise my head and scream in agony. He steps back. He is toying with me now. A thin smirk comes across his face, he is mocking me, degrading my for my mistakes. I stumble clumsily o my feet, shutting out the pain in my leg. I raise my Katana, and it begins again.

    This time I lunge forward. He raises his sword and deflects my blow, using his momentum to try to bring his sword in contact with my flesh. I quckly move my Katana to block this blow, and in doing so knock my opponant off balance. I sense his weakness and try to explot it. I give him two sharp blows, both of which he deflects, though he stumbles backwards awkwardly. I lunge forward again, but i am too late, he has regained his balance. deflects my blow, and delives one that sends a sharp pain shooting up my arm. It is now I stumblick backwards, grasping my arm as bloods slowly flows out of it. In a fit of rage I lunge forward. He does not bother to raise his sword, but moves his body out of the way. I swing and miss, once more off balance as he slaps me with the falt side of his sword. I spin and look at my opponent once more. The smirk hsa grown more mocking, he believes he will win this batt,e I intend to prove him wrong. I use his hubris against him as I pretend to make another lunge. He predictable moves, and I adjust my swing accordingly. My blade strikes home as it cuts deep into his arm as he howls in pain. The smirk is instantly gone, replaced by the a fury unimaginable. I can no longer deflect his powerful blows. I am helpless as his blades cut deep into my skin. Hell hath no fury like that of my opponent. One more powerful blow and I am down.

    I lie htere looking towards my opponent towering over me, his sword raised. The wind howling through the trees, shaking the sea of grass like an ocean. He screams mightily as he begins to bring his sword down for the killing blow. I die, but my Honor remains intact. My vision of my opponenet is replaced by a blinding flash. I once more hear him howl in pain, I watch as a bolt of lightening travels through his sword, incinerating the owner. He screams as the life is sucked out of him and transfered to the sky. I shut my eyes and hold my hand up to block the blinding light. As quickly as it happened it was gone. My opponent low lay before me, once the bain of my existance, now a pitiful mass of charred flesh, spit upon by the rain. I see clearly that Mother Nature has chosen for me to be the flower that shall blossom. My opponent has has been plucked from the Earth, and I only have the Earth itself to thank. I shall give my opponents proper rights, and tell of his braveness in battle, for it is what he deserves, such a brave and fearless fighter, only preserving his honor.
    Entrant 6 - Orontid
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Cherry Blossom

    The young man could see
    On the field where he would die
    A sakura tree

    He held his spear tight
    "No-one will take the castle
    While I still draw breath."

    The defenders came
    Through the gates into the field
    And lined up in rows

    The young man could see
    On the field where he would die
    An array of foes

    The attackers came
    Armed with swords and spears in hand
    Menace in their eyes

    They charged with fury
    The young man could see them now
    He thrust out his spear

    He fought with valour
    “To my last breath!” He shouted
    His last breath he drew

    A sword from the foe
    Into him it entered through
    The young man fell down

    On his back he fell
    Like a baby, helpless and
    Crying out in vain

    Yet he could see it
    The sakura tree shedding
    Leaves onto the ground

    The leaves came and went
    So wonderful, all too brief
    The tree in blossom

    The young man had seen
    On the field where he had died
    The sakura tree
    Entrant 7 - Ryou
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    His Holiness the POPE is dead! That’s all Christendom Europe have said for the past month. The cardinals, afraid of losing their powers, made propaganda reports like the pope was carried off by Angels to heaven, or how he wisely sacrificed himself to save Europe from God’s wrath, but I know what truly happened. It was a normal day actually, nothing special. The pope was riding with his retinues through his front lawn (a 60 mile long map known as Grassy Plain) when he encountered 200 Italian Spear militia 50 miles from his castle. (they should be renamed to unwanted general killer or something, as that’d what everyone use them for)
    “Make way you bunch of dirty Peasants!” The pope demanded rather rudely.
    “De Ninguna Manera!” The peasants screamed back at him. (that’s actually By No means in Spanish, not Italian, but my School doesn’t teach Italian)
    So the pope let his body guards set to work, and in 5 seconds flat his experienced retinues cut the Peasants apart.
    They went on. 2 minutes later and about 40 miles from the pope’s castle in the far off mountains at the end of the lawn they met a second unit of Italian spear militia, this time numbering only about 100. When the pope ordered this peasants out of his way the leader again replied
    “De Ninguna Manera!” It turns out this is the same unit that rallied from their route. Since they recently routed their moral was only winded, and thus In only 4 seconds the peasants were cut apart and broken.
    2 minutes later and about 30 miles from the pope’s castle they met the same unit again, this time with only 50 men (in 5 seconds the unit lost 100 men, but in 4 seconds they only lost 50) Since they recently routed twice their moral was only shaken, and the pope ordered them away and the leader replied de ninguna Manera again and in 3 seconds they were routed. This went on with the peasants losing every time but losing less men every time until the pope was only 10 miles from his castle and facing them is only 6 peasants. Again de ninguna manera and the wavering peasants were this time shattered! The pope and his men, deciding to have a little fun, chased after the shattered peasants, not realizing that their hit points were all down to one, though none of his retinue died yet. The shattered peasants led them on a chase for some 10 miles until they caught up, but then when the pope and his men caught up they were surrounded by an ambush of demons, led by the general of the army the pope’s men faced, the devil himself, (who rallied the peasants time after time with his 50 command stars) The demons fell upon the pope’s men. Did a single bodyguard make out of the ambush alive? NO! DE NINGUNA MANERA!!!!
    Entrant 8 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Dear Claire,

    I hope this missive finds you in good health and humour as ever. I do thank you for your seemingly prompt reply to my last missive. The embassy was most helpful in delivering it to me and I enjoyed the description of the recent holiday that you and your husband took to Calais earlier this year. I do hope that Samuel enjoyed the sights and memorials of the war. On the off chances that you didn't visit those sights (I would have assumed that one of your tolerance would have. As always chide me if this is not the case) I do hope that the beaches were fantastic.

    My travels have now extended to southern Kyoto and the landscape is stunning. I would fully anticipate you to enjoy such a venture to the fullest and no doubt you would share my love for the scenery. However apart from the lack of accessible translators there is one minor problem. Whilst earlier in the year the weather was fine. A touch warmer then I was used to in summer it was bearable. But now in the full run on summer it is almost intolerable. The heat is not the problem. It is the almost steamy atmosphere that inhabits the isles. At the time of me writing this missive it is barely noon and my kerchief is so wet that I can wring out almost a full measure (shot). The perspiration refuses to dissapate. I understand why they suggested that I prepare my health proper before leaving. It is a difficult climate.

    I do hope that you enjoy the drawing I have enclosed. I passed this sight three days ago. It is the remains of an old imperial fort or something. My translator was quite vauge. But the Cherry Blossom was poignant and isolated that it's sense of detactment forced it's way into my mind. I have spent the last to days finishing the sketch and hope that it finds you in good health. I hope that I will be able to return to England soon. But I cannot promise anything. My father seems almost too interested that I spent as much time out here as possible. His reasons as always are his own.

    I do admit that there is a slightly ulterior
    motive to thiis letter, I understand that you are wedded and such things are most sacred. I'd be a fool not to recognise this. However I do believe that once I come back. Perhaps we could have lunch like the years of old. I do miss your company and I know that what we once had has long died and that I far too late to fix the mistakes I made. But I would like to hear your voice again. Perhaps it is the long months of lack of company which drives me to such a request. But I do not have an answer to that.

    Wishing for some snow.

    Yours Forever.

    T.
    Entrant 9 - ♔Oggie♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    (Alternative history
    Many years passed. Many years of struggle, of enduring hardships, of hard work. Here in this new land. This land untouched by men, waiting to be shaped according to our ideas. We did what many supposed to be impossible. We created home far away from where our true home lies. We created a new Japan.
    We based ourselves on the writings of the great Chinese explorer Zheng He. Zheng spoke of a distant land across the ocean far to the east. A land unhabited by humans. A place with trees as old as the earth itself, mountains higher than any known to man and animals like no one has ever seen.
    I Kanaye Iesada sailed east with a special task. I was to claim this new land for the emperor. On our journey we discovered beautiful islands, some large and some small. It was the sixt year of the reign of the current emperor we saw the coastline. There we found a bay where we decided to settle.
    The first few years were tough. Our rice harvest was not large. Still we managed to create some houses with the timber and supplies we brought with us. After many years we thrived. Houses were build and there was plenty of food. Building had begun to the fortress on the ridge overlooking the bay.
    For me though it was time to go. I got old and fulfilled my task. I looked around. This is what I accomplished. This was my lifes work. A smile formed on my face it was time to go. Time to go home. Time to go to Japan.
    Entrant 10 - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    It was a dark and stormy night as the only sound by the road to be heard were the drumming hoof beats of a heavy horse. He was nearing to the edge of the dueling area, now the samurai could initiate revenge on his enemy. His enemy, the samurai representing the Dark Lord of Tokyo, had massacred his family without mercy. Now, he had challenged the Samurai of Tokyo to a duel to the death. He now neared the dueling area, it was time…
    A darkened square greeted his eyes in the courtyard of the village with only a few torches meekly burning. A hail of rain turreted everywhere, flying down from the roof tops and churning the ground into mud. In the middle of the dark square, the samurai could see his long awaited enemy, kneeling on the ground, his sword on his knees. The good samurai dismounted and drew his blade while the Dark one got up from his meditating position. They stood near each other in the square and bowed…
    Lightning struck, and before it could subside, the two angered men rushed at each other in a clash of steel. They grimaced as one tried to get the edge over the other, and as the boom of the thunder could be heard, they jumped back from combat and got in a balanced stance. They rushed to each other again, both in a frenzy full of zeal and hate. The only thing that could be heard for the next two minutes was the clash of steel on steel. Then, suddenly, the good samurai lost his footing on the mud and feel to the ground, but before he was able to get up, the foot of the other samurai was upon his chest, sword raised above his head. “Hah, you fool!” his voice echoed, “You dare not think you could beat me!”
    The killing blow was about to be initiated. He could see his enemies arms raised high above his head. He closed his eyes, preparing to die, strangely though; he could not feel any sharp bursts of pain. He opened his eyes, only to see his enemy lying on the ground near him with an arrow buried deep in his back. He got up, only to see his long lost son standing near the ring with a bow… he was alive.


    TotW 101a - The Smell of Rain
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    Winner - Dan the Man
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The rains fell with a pitter patter on the boat's wooden deck, already soggy with ocean spray. The rigging creaked as we bumped our way along through the turbulent waters. I stood over the bow, staring out into the deep gray fog that enveloped us like a woolen blanket. As we pushed further through the earthbound clouds around us, I could see something looming out in the distance. I squinted, my eyes tightening as much as they could before becoming completely shut. Still I couldn't quite make out this strange shape. Then suddenly, as if by the forces of Divine Providence Itself, the fog parted and a shoreline finally came into view. The New World.
    "Land ho!" A crewman up in the crow's nest called. The deck sprung to life as sailors secured ropes and prepared to dock. As we drew closer I could see a sleepy little fishing village on the coast. Lamps bobbed around as the townspeople rushed from their homes to see the hulking galleon glide easily into port. This was a backwater region even for the newborn colonies, it was no wonder to me that they were so eager to see us. I presumed some of the younger children hadn't even seen their homeland before, let alone any fresh arrivals. However foreign and savage it may have seemed to me, this was their home, the only one they had ever known. I began to fantasize about actually living here, scratching a living as a fur trapper or a farmer, raising my family in a one room log cabin, depending on my fellow colonists to survive Indian attacks, animals, and all manner of wilderness hazards. But no, this was not my place. I was a traveling merchant, a trader, selling my wares and going home, just as always. I had no family to go back to, just a big lonely house back in Yorkshire, some servants, and a couple of hound dogs. Money, that was my primary goal, not companionship, not adventure, not accomplishment, just money.
    We slid into port smoothly, throwing down the gangplank and letting all passengers off. I pulled my luggage and wares along with me. Was I getting old, or were my bags getting heavier? How much did I bring this time? Any more than the last? As I struggled under the weight of my possessions I watched the colonists around me greet people disembarking from the ship. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, husbands, wives, family members of all sorts. A few soldiers dressed in their signature red uniforms fresh from the war with Spain kissed their wives and held their children, whom they had not yet met. I drifted through it all like a ghost, while I attempted to spot the local inn.
    Bull's Head Tavern a swinging sign in gaudy font declared. I stepped inside, dragging my goods along with me to the bartender's post.
    "Good evening, bartender." I said to him. "Would you happen to have a room for one available?" The bartender, a gruff looking man with a stubbly beard, probably in his early fifties, sized me up for a minute.
    "Sure." He replied in that horrible accent the colonials were beginning to develop. "Right this way." He called to a young man across the room. "James! Help this man carry his bags to his room, will you?" The lad leaped to his feet and took some of my luggage, the relief on my straining back was miraculous. We trudged up some dirty looking steps into my room. It was rustic, but pleasant, and not infested with rats like most of the other colonial establishments I had stayed in previously. I tossed the servant boy a shilling. He thanked me quietly and promptly left me in peace. I flopped onto the bed, caring little about my soaked clothing. Tomorrow I would have to find the market and get to work selling my wares. The sooner they were all gone, the sooner I could get back home. I rose quickly and the bed trembled a bit. I walked to the window and watched the life of the colony below me. I sighed a little as I thought about what could have been, were I younger and stronger. The rains began to draw up their battle-line again over the horizon, and the thunder of their cannons crashed through the skies, sending the colonists in a full retreat back to their homes, where I knew they would continue their celebrations. I thought to myself: "Was this life, really all worth it?" These colonists lived in such simplicity and seemed so happy, and yet here I was, wealthy, successful, and somehow still not pleased. I had seen every corner of the navigable world, from the golden beaches of the Caribbean to the bustling Dutch trade port of Cape Town, from exotic Singapore to Bahia, the jewel of the Brazilian coastline. I got nothing from it. And now here I was, an aging man remembering a life of regret and not being able to change a minute of it. One truly does not know what he has missed until he has seen it living and breathing in somebody else.
    Entrant 1 - Hross
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Three keels cut the whale road’s emerald and silver streams
    Crested by the serpentine prow and at the head Hengest
    Wretch, exile, oathbreaker and son of the son of the gods
    Woeful deeds that set him at sword’s edge with his master
    The guile and deceit of the Frisian king, vengeance
    Is best delivered swift and not left to rot in the bosom
    He repaid that gift in kind, bathed the royal hall in blood
    Left Finnsburgh burning and breathing dark into the evening sky
    Left his love then, that widowed queen and with his kin sailed west
    Those honourable men, pledged in life and death to their lord
    Whatever fate was his. Like true brothers unto him, like Horsa
    His flesh and blood, at the bow of the second ship, raised fist
    In the gale and brine, ‘We shall carve our path anew!’

    The low, wide flats of the strand were scarred by the boats
    Dragged ashore by 200 Jutes and Half-Danes bedecked in byrnies
    Hands hardened to the cold Seax and the iron frost patterned
    On those well-smithed blades. The hall of Vortigern
    Had never looked upon their like, the cross of the king
    Looked ill upon the hammer of Thunor and their red runes.
    These men of the north with the grey sea in their eyes
    The last hope for the land, with the golden day of Rome
    Past, once lit by glow of eagle standard and glimmer of coin
    The people now orphaned, their old masters abandoned
    Them to the storm of ages, to steer by their own stars.
    What glory then, with these Ænglisc shields to parry the cuts
    Levelled against the Britons, fending off Pict, Scot and those
    Kin of the defenders. But Hengest’s glory was robbed and made
    Vortigern’s crown. Bitterly the Jutes laid their barrows on a wretched isle
    The only soil their masters granted in their ungrateful hour
    Thanatos, place of the dead, was to be their home- but no!
    Horsa tred out, fist forward against the royal red host
    Set to rights those who had betrayed their service
    “What unworthy lords these Britons are to make a mockery
    Of the blood we have spilt in this soil, have we not earned
    A home upon these green hills as much as you?
    Our children have now grown like the corn in your fields
    Bound to this land by love and life, owing to our dead
    What peace is yours is ours given in good faith
    We call you out to pay the weregild or let the gods
    Take from you that which your injustice withholds.”

    As answer came a spear and pierced the heart of Horsa
    That White Horse of his people, laid low, lifeblood
    Gushing into the moist earth our mother. Not long
    Wept the Jutes, swift like lightning scythed the seax
    A Night of Long Knives to trample underfoot the flower
    Of old Britain, Wēalas and Roman alike. The Tyrian purple
    Soaked now in crimson under Stone Henge’s shadow.

    A time of fire then, thrown west the Frankish axe into the gates
    Of Arthur’s court. Long years the Angles stood pressed upon the foe,
    Within eight lives of men, the land was again softly spoken
    In the wind beneath the Easter sun, smiled then the goddess
    On that goodly spring of Hengest’s sons. From Kent to Caer Luel
    The English tongue was heard, words rang out in song of the elder days
    A dawn of three keels on a cold sea towards an undiscovered country.



    Entrant 2 - Neige Noire
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    I dreamt of a flag. A flag of justice. A flag of peace and equality. A flag of tranquillity... A single flag fluttering in the wind, embosomed by the unearthly shades of red and yellow adorning the sky. I dreamt I was the bearer of this flag. And for a fleeting moment it seemed that the very soil under my feet shook off the soulless fruitlessness of frost and embraced the warmth of the August sun, lending beauty to the barren fields and reshaping them into an ocean of red and green. And in the midst of it, a single flag flirting with the wind... Whispering, calling... It feels as if I'm drowning. Drowning in bliss. But what if this isn't a mere dream? What if men have lain aside their differences and false ideals? What if they have finally overcome their pride and realized the pointlessness of war?
    Suddenly, a flash! A rumble and confusion piercing the air. I look at my arms. Blood. My comrade runs past me and a cloud of void weaves around his shape and slowly covers everything around me. I turn my head. My flag is lying underneath me. Tattered and soaked with my own blood. It felt as if I was drowning...

    Entrant 3 - ♔Oggie♔
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    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Ahoy matey… I welcome ye to me ship. Come and sit with the crew, yahr right there between Hooked Pete and John-with-the-scarrrrr. There’s a good lad, nothing teh be afraid off, they won’t harm ye. Now be quiet ya filthy, bilge sucking dogs for this old seadog has a story to tell. Avast ye! Pay attention lads! *fires a pistol* Now I have ye’r attention, I will begin…

    It started on a night just like this one. There were no clouds and stars covered the nightly sky. A soft breeze pushed the ship across the calm sea. We’d left Isla Tortuga for three days and were on the lookout for booty. Ye’r see we were on the hornswaggle. We’d lost our precious gold to gambling, rum and women, savvy? The cap’n told us we would find some booty soon. And it was true, we found this Dutch merchant vessel. So we made sail and hoisted the Jolly Roger.
    Now, the Dutchman tried to get away from us, but we caught up with him and boarded. Those Dutchies weren’t much of a fight and they surrendered quickly. The mates thought we had a large booty and were pleased. But shiver me timbers there was no cargo aboard, so we wanted to keelhaul the Dutch cap’n. The fat landlubber was scared as hell and begged us not to do it. He would tell us about a great treasure if we’d let him and the crew go. The cap’n agreed and the Dutchman told us of this secret island near the coast of New Andalusia and of the hidden trail through the jungle which would lead to an old native temple were we would find the treasure. Well…. After he told us everything we knew we all had ‘em walk the plank for we wanted no survivors to tell the authorities what had happened. We sunk the ship and set course for Isla Muerte.

    Pass me the rum lad, me throat get’s dry from all that talking. Yahr that’s it. Away ye scurvy seadog, this is me rum! Get ye’r own bottle.

    Ah now where was I? Aye I knows. We reached Isla Muerte exactly as the Dutchman told us. It wasn’t a large island but large enough. Just one mountain that rose from the sea covered with tropical trees and plants. Somewhere in that rainforest there would be a hidden temple stashed with booty. The lads were eager to explore this island in search for gold, but the cap’n forbid it. He would go along with ten others. This old seadog was one of those unlucky few…

    We took the rowing boat and went for the coast which was covered with white sand. The cap’n decided that it was best if we’d climb the mountain so we could see the temple between the trees. The lads and I were of course not very happy about that. Pirates ahrrrren’t mountain men. But we followed orders and marched through the rainforest. It was hot and the air was heavy and our sweat broke out when we hacked and slew ourselves forward. There was no sound but that of our own. Nay, not even birds or the sound of the wind. The vegetation seemed to get grow more dense. Big leaves and thorny bushes blocked our way. Then it happened…
    Suddenly in the blink of an eye Limping Joe, the mate who closed the ranks, was gone. We did not hear him scream, nothing. Then again from the other side we lost Morgan. Now ye’r see the lads got scared and we wanted to head back to the beach. But the cap’n insisted on continuing and he hacked his way through the thorny bushes. We stood still, afraid to keep going but also eager for the gold. In the end we followed our cap’n. Not all mates were happy about it, but they did not wanted to be separated from the group.

    As we all went through the hole, cut by the cap’n, we did not see him. There was no other way he could have gone. Suddenly the shadows seemed to be moving. This was too much for us and we fled in panic. It was each man for himself. I was all alone deep in the jungle, me mates all went other ways, but I kept going. No way I would stay on that cursed place.

    Then I heard a scream far away from me, and then another one, more closer this time. I counted, as I made me way through the bushes, the cap’n gone, Joe gone, Morgan gone and two others. There were only six of us left. More screams followed and eventually I was left. The shadows closed in around me, whatever it was that did all this… it was near. I ran for me life.

    I heard the sound of waves and I felt the wind. The vegetation got less and less and then I was on the beach again. I was safe. Now mates that’s how I’d became the sole survivor of those eleven unfortunate men who went into that jungle. I’ll never know what it was that got those lads, but it did not get me.

    And that’s the end of that story, yahr…
    Now let’s sing us a song of rum and pirates for I am as drunk as… as… yargh I don’t know ho ho ho and a bottle with rum!
    Entrant 4 - Stultus
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Source: Google Image Search. I'm not sure who made this image, it's called 'Eternal Origin' and I saw it first on DeviantArt a long time ago.

    Young Caesar and Marc Antony,
    Both knew that peace wasn't to be,
    Throwing in Cleo,
    Who Marc, well, you know.
    (He was just kinda whipped, you see.)

    Young C. saw the heart of the man,
    And instantly thought of a plan,
    Marc's lover, the tart,
    Had bewitched his heart,
    Which made Marc, sadly, un-Roman.

    Breaking the temple doors in,
    (Caesar ignored this cruel sin),
    Antony's will,
    The treasonous bill,
    Handed Roman lands to his kin!

    The Senate read this with a frown,
    “Antony must be brought down!”
    So to Actium,
    The two sides would come,
    And hopefully foul Marc would drown.

    M Agrippa, young Caesar's friend,
    Decided to help with this end,
    So by 31,
    Agrippa was done,
    Marc's supply lines he did soundly rend.

    Since his troops had near nothing to eat,
    Grumbling and moaning defeat,
    Marc, on the wall,
    Gave it his all,
    And outside the bay they did meet.

    Marc's boats were Greek, big and mean,
    But Agrippa's boats were quick and lean,
    And so Marc's boats burned,
    But Marc, as it turned,
    Had a problem quite unforseen

    His lover, who had quite an itch,
    (The battle she wanted to ditch),
    For crammed in her boat,
    Too much gold to float,
    Most from her temples, the witch!

    And so the two partners in crime,
    Decided that now was the time,
    They broke through the fleet,
    And took to their feet,
    And quickly were gone from the line.

    Caesar, expecting such shames,
    (Proving he wasn't playing games),
    Without any pity,
    Remorse or committee,
    Set the rest of Marc's fleet to the flames.

    Every last of Marc's legionnaires,
    Seeing their gen'ral had taken to airs,
    In only three days,
    Reconciled their ways,
    And decided that Caesar was theirs.

    Octavian granted Marc's guys,
    A pardon for all of Marc's lies,
    No doubt with a grin,
    A wag of the chin,
    “Next time we see Marc, he dies.”

    To avoid this heavy-hand fate,
    (And avoid the parade through Rome's gate),
    Hearing Cleo died,
    Via suicide,
    Marc dove on his sword without wait.

    But Cleo attempted once more,
    To stick her fair foot in Rome's door,
    She tried, at her best,
    To seize Caesar's chest,
    But he kept his keen eyes to the floor.

    The Queen of Kings still had her pride,
    (Would not be in a triumphal ride!),
    So with a snake,
    Her life she did take,
    And there in her palace she died.

    Now that his deed had been done,
    He went home, young Octavion,
    The Senate said, “Trust us,
    You are Augustus,
    In perpetuum divus, great one!”

    As for poor Marc and his love,
    Of them the world was quite rid of,
    But what if they are
    Beyond some small star,
    Observing with sadness above?

    What had love cost them, and to what gain?
    All it had brought Rome was pain.
    Just look at the waves,
    So many men's graves,
    And naught left but the smell of the rain.
    Entrant 5 - Nefarious
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Picture 1: Philip Marlowe detective yarn.
    The smell of rain covers the stench of the crime scene as the whiskey washes away the detective's mental image.

    Picture 2: Culture divided on Easter Island.
    The only thing common amongst the factions is their love of the smell of rain. One day, hopefully, some drops will reach some seedlings and re-forest the hillside. In a generation or two, the lucky ones will build canoes and escape this self-inflicted hell.

    Picture 3: Comedy.
    In keeping with his unnatural luck, it finally began to pour. If he can become completely soaked, perhaps the smell of rain will cover the cheap perfume. She was fun. True. But the missus is best kept in the dark about such matters.

    Picture 4: Typical battle yarn from those never in an actual battle.
    The thunderheads masked the sound of the cavalry's charge until it was too late. The left flank never heard their approach, nor caught the musk aroma of the steeds. For once, the smell of rain was not welcomed in their un-bathed ranks. Blahblahblah

    Picture 4: Ditto.
    Be sure and mention the relation between flowers and youth. The youth of our country trampled underfoot. Meh..

    Picture 5: Ditto again.
    But this time, use the besieged city's built-up street garbage as the antithesis to the rain.
    Entrant 6 - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Rain
    What is the feeling deep down inside of a nice down pour? Sadness, fear, excitement? Here in Southern California we get rain rarely. So as for today’s story, I shall share my feelings concerning how wonderful and beloved rain is. When I see the gray sky, I am filled with joy at the mellow constant sound of the beating of the rain against the roof. I sit next to the warm hearth, wrapped up in a blanket, next to the television with a cup of tea in my hands. Or, I sit next to the window along-side my favorite cat, as we stare at the drops that fall, the torrent of water rushing down from the roof. I am flooded with emotions of joy when the first drop hits the ground, when the cracked dirt grabs the first drop greedily, taking it for itself. And later on, when you see the flowers begin to bloom, the grass to grow. The dead gray hills, covered with a fresh coat of new grown grass. Here, spring comes early, after a week of coziness inside the home; you rush outside to find the world in bloom. The warm sun fills you with joy, as you see new life spring up around you. What are your feelings of rain?
    Last edited by Dance; May 11, 2013 at 11:50 AM.

  7. #27

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 102a - They're Burning Futures in the Mountains
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Winner - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    They were an ancient people, their years seemingly incalculable by the standards of our measurement. It's doubtful there was a time when they didn't live there, in those mountains, practicing the ancient rites of their culture. And there were many rites indeed, each pertaining to the society in it's own way. The sapêr'nub fa'fonishan,” the “dream kings” of their society, the priests who interpret dreams, or the “shü't je'an je'sh'en,” the “mountain runners,” the messengers between the people. Yes, it was a complex culture, full of obscure and seemingly pointless rules and mores. But to them, it is life.


    It was that life which the King could never fully understand. He had met many peoples in his time, the simplistic plainsmen, who were assimilated easily, or the civilization of Nevas, who, given their small army and focus on science and the arts, were destroyed. But these people puzzled him. On the surface, they seemed to be simple hunters and traders. They showed no affinity for the art of war, and yet every attack he sent was repulsed. They turned to hunting men as if it was a new breed of deer. He wished he could assimilate them, as he did the plainsmen, but he knew that could not happen. Their cultures were too different. So he reviewed his options. Give up? Out of the question. His reputation was built on crushing all who opposed him. How could he give up and save face? He couldn't, so another option was to be cosidered. An option any other opponent would not have required.


    Shol was the son of the village dream king, a blood line which gave him considerable stature in his community. He was, therefore, chosen as the delegate from his village to go to meet with this outside force, the “yisha”as his kind called them. They were marching through the mountains at that moment, following the path they knew would lead them to the yisha's camp. They were no further than thirty zopish'an (a unit of measurement the people used, equivalent to around 20 yards) away from where they believed the camp was when they met a yisha. He must have been young, for his stature was slim and short. Shol approached him, saying, “Shaton've. Kinâ she? Kinâ shä Shol. Fo'tak fo'shä damês, shotün ka fonishan.” The boy stared up at him, bewildered. Another of the delegates quickly reprimand Shol for speaking their language, stating that the boy would not speak it. Shol laughed, realizing his mistake. He turned back to the boy, now pointing at himself while saying Shol. He then pointed at the boy. The boy's eyes lit up, and pointing at himself, he said “Jake.” Shol then made a circle around his head, and glared at the delegates. The boy made a mock scepter to clarify, before saying “King!” But just as they reached that moment of clarification, they heard a noise behind them, and felt heat. Shol turned around, quickly, and saw the mountain on fire. The heat was unbearable, and the smoke filled Shol's lungs. He turned around to run, only to see that the way was blocked by fire. Shol didn't know how it had spread this far this fast, but he knew it was over. As he drew his last breath, he collapsed, and was burned to ash.


    The King was brushing ash of his cloak when his son ran up to him, smiling. “Did you do what I asked you to do, my son?”the King asked. The son nodded. “You dropped that torch where I asked you to? You did it exactly when and where I told you to?”Again, the son nodded, saying, “Yes, father. I waited until I saw the mountainmen, before dropping the torch. I made sure they didn't see me do it, either.” the King nodded, gazing out at the fire raging on the mountain. He let out a slow laugh, barely percievable but for the shaking of his shoulders. He turned back to his son, put him on his lap, and said, “You did well, Jake. You did well.”
    Entrant 1 - Ratzor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    The phalanx is the clenched fist, raised in defiance against an oppressor.
    The hoplon, our shields, a bulwark for our enemies upon which to exhaust themselves.
    The duro and xiphos, tools to bring the demise and utter defeat of our adversaries.



    Our flesh made to be molded, strengthen and sacrificed to protect our homes.
    Our plight to stand ever victorious in the face of overwhelming odds.
    Our goal to pass judgement in the eyes of the gods.



    Ares, god of war, grant us strenght!
    Apollon, god of prophecy, grant us resilience!
    Zeus, King of gods, grant us victory!



    Blood to be run from the throats of defeat.
    Blood is the price that we all have to meet.
    Blood in the rivers and blood on our chest.



    We are the chosen.
    We are the defense.
    We are sparta.
    Entrant 2 - ♔Oggie♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Come, come, don’t be scared, it’s only a bit further. There, do you see it? No? Come closer then. Right there through the trees, yes right there across the lake. Do you see it? There lies the hidden land. A land of magic and mystery. One can only go there when he knows the secret. Do you want to see it? Come and I’ll show you. We must hurry though, the sun has almost disappeared. Right, here take my hand. Now, when you see the sun disappear behind those mountains you jump. Just hold my hand and I will guide you. Are you ready? Close your eyes aaaaand…..jump! Don’t let go of my hand. Keep holding it, we’re nearly there. Almost… yes we’ve landed. Now open your eyes, no not too fast. Let them get used to the light. Yes? Fantastic, have a look around. Do you see them? No? Try again, but this time focus on the bushes. You see them now? Right there! Yes of course they are real, they live here. What? In mushrooms? No, those are just fairytales. This is real. They live in tiny houses build under the trees. Oh! Now they’ve spotted us. See how quick they are? They are called Kinstruffel, but you probably know them as Gnomes.
    Well they are gone now. Let me take you further, there are many more things to see. For instance, there on that branch. Beautiful isn’t she? A living flower. Ah she heard me, hear her giggle. ‘Come down little one, I want you to meet someone.’ Here, just hold your hand up and she will fly right towards you. Hah, didn’t I tell you? Her name is Lilly and she’s a fairy. ‘I’m sorry little one, but we have to continue our journey. There’s so much to see and we have so little time. What? Yes of course I’ll come back. Now off you go Lilly.’ Ah the innocence of a fairy. They’ll trust anyone and they’re very curious.
    Come one let’s go. Watch out for that plant… yes better walk around it. It’s evil that thing. Flesh eating, many creatures fell prey to it’s wonderful scent. No, not all that lives here is beautiful. Here too are evil things… *cough* No need to become emotional. Just follow me and I’ll show you the cottage of Madame Hurban. She’s a witch. No not an evil one, she’s a friendly old lady who helps anyone who has need for it.
    What! Look at the time, we’ve been here for hours! Yes hours, time here goes much faster than in your world. We must head back now, before you’ll be forced to stay here forever. Come on run! Yes, grab my hand I’ll lead you. Right through there, now up here. Yes it’s a shortcut… come on faster the sun has almost reached the horizon. Ah finally we are here. Right you know what to do. Close your eyes and hold my hand. Three, two….one and jump.
    Entrant 3 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    []

    Six months ago, as I left all I had ever known, I could not even fathom what I now stand here gazing upon today. My life began on the streets of Dublin, where I remained for 20 years, picking up scraps not even fit for a rat, and even getting into fights over them. I remember when the redcoats came and cleaned the streets, sent us off to orphanages. But I escaped, I returned to the streets, Lord knows why. After twenty years of hard living, carefully earning money from the most hellish of jobs and subsequently frittering it all away on drinks and assorted ladies of the night, I saw a ship. This ship was the most majestic ship I had ever seen, her clean deck awash with a flurry of activity as men prepared to make sail. Her gold paint sparkling with dew in the shining light slowly peeking over the horizon. And I stood there, watching as deckhands greeted the Bosun, as the captain, in a splendid uniform stood perched on the poop watching his crew with a sense of delight only seen in men as they watch their sons. I began walking toward the ship with a wide gait, I felt hundreds of eyes slowly come upon me, wondering who this stranger was. As I reached the ship I was seized by a Marine. "Stop" a stern, yet kindly voice shouted. It was the captain, "Who are you?" I had been frozen unable to speak anything but a long, slow "um, ah..." "Well, Um Ahh, are you seeking employment?" The captain asked. I shook my head, dumbfounded at the prospect of leaving Ireland, and being able to touch this beautiful ship. I ventured aboard to begin my new life on this ship bound for America. I was to become a clerk, and I was taught to read in the first three weeks of my new emplyoment. This life was paradise, at least, until the fifth week.

    It became hell. As we neared America, and the storms constantly assailed our ship. Each day we would lose an upwards of five men, cast into the unforgiving seas. As we neared Cape Cod, our destination, the ship racked violently. Men were spilled overboard into their death by Neptune, as an ungodly sound could be heard as our ship moved forward. It was rocks. Our hull had been torn away, we were sinking. A massive wave was cast upon the deck, taking my feet from under me, and I was cast into the raging seas. The next morning was calm. The ship was gone, and I saw nobody left. I took hold of a piece of wood, and just paddled for shore: my only hope of life. Not three hours later was I hoisted out of the water by benevolent fishermen, I decided that I should now begin yet another life, one in America.

    When I arrived in Boston, I had nothing, it looked as if my life was to go the same way it had in Dublin. I would do odd jobs and fritter away my money, no way for a man to live as I look back on it. But there was one thing different: I was free. Free from the tumultuous struggles of the old world, from the yolk of the monarchy, Here I was free to let my vices control me, or put them behind, which is exactly what I did. I worked for another month, but saved my money. I bought food and supplies, and met several other men doing the same thing. We pooled our resources and marched west: into the undiscovered country. Now I stand here, on the other side of the Mississippi river, gazing out over this beautiful land, with its unending skies, filled with birds of every kind, dotted with puffs of clouds; Majestic rivers, their water providing the livliehood for the few who have decided to live here, and crowded with such numbers of fish that it is difficult to calculate; The seas of grass, waving across the prarie, and crisscrosed by Buffalo and native alike; and immaculate mountains, guardians of freedom, standing tall gazing down upon the whole of the nation, with their snow capped peaks filling the horizon. As I gaze forward, I know that this is a land of freedom, though undiscovered it may be. I look back to my partners, and continue forward. As I make my step I continue to explore this undiscovered country.



    Entrant 4 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    We could only look on as the fire destroyed our homes. Flames licking at the timbers and blazing though the thatch. The flames destroyed everything, our homes, our livelihoods, our futures. There was nothing we could do to save any of it; the red-coated soldiers that lit the fires guaranteed that fact.

    Our landlord had decided he could make money using our land for sheep. Sheep, for Christ’s sake! We would lose everything for sheep. Instead we would be forced to leave the homes our ancestors had lived in for generations. Forced to travel across the mountains in the winter snow with our women, children, elderly and sick to take ship to America where those of us that had survived would have chance to make a new life. We would face starvation, disease, the highland winter, exhaustion and other great hardships so someone can make a few more pounds tending sheep. And so it is that we turn our backs on the past that was burning to ash and took the first steps towards an uncertain future in a far off land.

    Is it any wonder why our women cry and the men’s heart burn with a fury as hot as the flames that destroyed our lives?


    TotW 103a - Lord of the Tale
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Winner
    - Neige Noire
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    And so he lay there, looking at the falling snow like a dead man. Not stirring or even blinking. The poor old Albert. Most of the men in the battalion had already gotten used to his bizarre ways. Some called him wicked and threw stones at him. They were punished immediately.

    The truth was that Albert was a good marksman. No, he was an excellent marksman, the best in the whole regiment. That was the only reason he was still tolerated.

    And there he was, still as a forgotten statue. With his white moustache catching even whiter snowflakes.

    The freezing air seemed to cover the inside of my lungs with a layer of ice and I was getting worried for the old fool.

    "Gerard, bring him a blanket or something," I shouted, trembling with cold, "that bald fool of a man will freeze himself to death."
    "If I had a blanket," followed a solemn retort, "I'd be warming my own ass!"

    Suddenly Albert shook his moustache wildly and sneezed his hat off. Then he stood up and rubbed his bald head.
    "It didn't come," snarled the said hatless man.
    "What didn't come?" I inquired in a reserved manner, pretending not to be interested, while inside I was boiling with anticipation.

    "Pitchforks," verbosity was not among Albert's most observable traits.
    "Sure... I didn't see any," I replied, slightly confused, "We are in the middle of nowhere. Where do you suppose they would come from?"

    "Captain Montyre said he hoped it would rain pitchforks points down on us all," Albert explained in a calm tone, rubbing his hands, "So I was looking for them to come and strike me dead."

    After a brief silence, bursts of laughter emitted all around us.
    "I knew he was mad! I knew it! But now he's gone outright nuts," shouted Gerard chokingly, twisting with laughter.

    "But why were you laying in the snow? Why couldn't you have waited for your death while standing or even sitting for that matter?" I asked, looking in the man's pale, grey eyes.
    "What do you mean, why?" he yelled, infuriated by the laughing crowd, "How do you think an old war veteran would look with a damn pitchfork in the top of his head?"
    Entrant 1 - Dan the Man
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    PLEASE READ THIS FIRST! Brief forward: This is an extremely (emphasis on extremely) loose, extremely (again, emphasis on extremely) dramatized, interpretation of events that might befall me tomorrow at school. Basically, what happened was that a substitute teacher marked me as missing in class with an unexcused absence today, despite the fact that I was present in class and the man even spoke to me face to face! School policy is that when a student is given an unexcused absence he or she has to talk to the principal to explain what happened.

    Also, CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. This will be important to know later in the story.



    I'm sitting in chem class first hour and I'm called down to the office. All eyes are on me as I rise to my challenge. Women swoon at the sight of my determined gaze.
    "You're a true hero, Danny!" A classmate calls.
    "It was a pleasure knowing you, man!" Another adds. I nod my head to the class and push easily through the metal door of the chem lab. I hear somebody sob as I begin to leave.
    "Don't cry for me." I say as I depart. "Remember me as I was, and who I would have been." The only consolation I have time for. The hallways echo with my footfalls like the drums of a death march as I stride heroically to the principal's office. As a Spartan I march, confident, fearless, ready to take on the world.
    "Dead man walking!" A passerby shouts. Students headed to the bathroom or elsewhere pause to salute as I continue by. Another innocent man sent to the gallows. My eyes narrow. The door is in sight. The receptionist nods knowingly and crosses herself as I pass her to the principal's office. I open the door. There he sits, his body bathed in a blue light emanating from his computer screen.
    "Daniel?"
    "Yeah, that's me."
    "You have a debt to society to pay, young man."
    "Depends who you ask..."
    He turns to me angrily. "Take a seat, son." He says through gritted teeth.
    I glide into my chair effortlessly and silently, folding my hands in my lap. My gaze is calm and cool, calculating every muscle movement, observing every change of emotion. He points a bright lamp directly at my face. Suddenly there is nothing in the world but blinding white light.
    "Where were you yesterday during third hour CAD?"
    "In class, sir."
    "Hah! Not according to your substitute teacher! I'll ask you one more time! Where were you during third hour CAD!?"
    "I was in class, I tell you! Ask the sub if you don't believe me!"
    He glares at me and picks up his phone to make a call.
    "Get me Mr. X in here now."
    We sit in silence for three minutes or so. I can see a bead of sweat trace its way down his face, slowly, like a small snail. It hits the desk and the sound seems to amplify to that of a hundred of Napoleon's cannons. A knock at the door.
    "Come in."
    The substitute walks in. "You needed me, sir?"
    "Can you verify that this young man was in the CAD class you subbed for yesterday in third hour?"
    He gulps. "I...yes...I asked him a question about an absent student. He was very helpful. I'm sorry sir, it was my mistake. I must have forgotten him on the list. Is that all you need, sir?"
    The principal is enraged. "Yes." He grunts. "You may go." He turns to me. "Well, son, it looks like we made a mistake." He growls through teeth clenched tight enough to bend solid steel. "I'll write you a pass. You may go back to your first hour."
    "Thank you sir." I pick up the pass and leave the room, calm and cool as I entered. The receptionist smiles, I nod to her and return the smile. She crosses herself again, a prayer of gratitude on her lips. I exit the office and people in the hallways applaud. Rose petals are dropped from the balcony on the second level. Passing students and adults alike follow me as I return to class, their thunderous applause growing louder as more and more of them join me. A jovial entourage. Their champion has survived! I open the classroom door and my peers grant me a hero's welcome. The eyes of young women well up with tears of joy, young men grin from ear to ear. I am hoisted up onto the shoulders of a great mob and paraded up and down the the hallways as more and more people leave their rooms to watch the commotion. The principal glares from his office window. An innocent man has escaped the gallows!

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    DISCLAIMER: This in no way represents the way my real principal handles discipline situations. In fact, from the very little experience I've had speaking to him face to face, he seems to be a very good-humored and kindly man, and I'm sure that, given my alibi, I will be acquitted tomorrow without trouble.
    Entrant 2 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    How long had it been. Who knew, anymore. Time had no meaning, not in the sense that they once knew it. Days, weeks, months. Inconsequential. Where they once thought of nothing but, now it was done. There had been the nine-to-five. Nine-to-fivenine-tofive-tofivenine. The day was separated as such, The Eight-to-Nine, the Nine-to-Five, the Five-to-Six, the Six-to-Ten. It repeats. Wake up. Eat. Travel. Work. Travel. Relax. Eat. Sleep. Repeat. Again, again, again. Eternity never felt this long. Now that was over, gone as the wind. Was that it? Gone and wind were in it, yes. Gone for the Wind? No, that wasn't quite right either. Perhaps it wasn't important. Then again, what was important? Time. But now it wasn't the Nine-to-Five, it was the Day-to-Night. They mostly come out at night. Mostly. What was that? Seemed familiar, somehow.


    He woke that day, as he had the day before, and before and before, with a feeling of hunger. No kitchen, here. The hunt was the kitchen, the animal the fridge. Refrigerator. None of those now. Long gone, like the wind. Only, the wind was here. It was windy. Why did his mind continue to return to those words? Something from the before, perhaps. Unknown. Curious. But the hunt was important, today. He gathered his rifle, his coat. He walked. Walked for some time, it would seem. Time was important, after all. He did keep it, time, but not in numbers. In feeling. He knew that it was what he may have called Nine at one time. No more. He walked. Not long before he spotted It. The creature, a large beast. Not fearsome, ferocious, furious. Gentle, this one. Easy prey. He lifted the rifle, felt the butt against his arm. Fired. Missed. The creature ran. No meal yet, then. He walked.


    Again, time ached at his mind. A dull pain, the realization that the time before the night was near. No food yet, either. He had missed his shot. Stop at the store on the way home from work. Milk, eggs, bread, cereal. They too, were gone. With the wind. That was it, gone with the wind. Only, what was that? Somehow familiar. His mind wandered from the task at hand. That day, the last day. The final Nine-to-Five. Over and done, at that precise moment in time on that exact day, of that single year. In the old terms of time. What had happened? He couldn't recall, some flash, a rattling that shook him down to his very core. He had not died, then. Not all did, some lived, as he did. Most did not live long after, as he did. He lived still then, far longer then anyone else he could recall. Time was a punishment. For what, not known. He stopped walking. What point to all this, then? No food. No time. Everything was gone with the wind. He liked the term, for whatever reason. No people, never bothered him before. What made them special now? It was hunger talking, he knew. With food came sanity. There was no food. Sanity was lost. Gone, he'd say. He glanced at the rifle, stood longer. Night would fall soon, time would take it's toll on him if he didn't. He lifted the rifle. Some time passed. He felt the cold metal. Time passed again. Then he was gone.
    Entrant 3 - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Doomed Run

    The streets were solemn and silent, as all that was heard was the slight drum of a slow hoof-beat. The Steward, Lord Denethor, had sent his brave knights, along with his son Faramir, out to re-capture the ruined city of Osgiliath. A crowd stood around the knights in silence, flowers littered the cobble-stone street as many more were thrown from the level above. They all knew it would be a doomed run; there was no way for a handful of knights to re-capture a city infested with thousands of orcs. But the city had to be recaptured….
    The gates groaned as if in hidden grief as they were opened. The knights slowly came out of the city, and lined up on the fields. The wives and family of the many men cried on the battlements, knowing the doom that lay ahead of their husbands and fathers. The horses whinnied as they were spurred, the charge had begun. Hundreds of hoofs battered the grassy plain, raising a long cloud of dust.
    The orcs, who were peering at their enemy, looked through the battlements with pleasure, expecting a nice fight. But their commander had something else in mind; he ordered his thousands of orcs to draw their bows….. And fire. Thousands of blackened bowstrings were released as the orcs fired their putrid, filth encrusted arrows. The knights, who had not even made it to the city, were shot down, as horses and men tumbled.
    The gates groaned again, and were opened…. Instead of seeing a proud regiment of victors, the people saw a horse, slowly limping towards the gate, carrying a wounded man, the son of the Steward.


    TotW 104a - The Seas of Wrath
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Winner
    - Lord Horatius
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    “Sir, the Puissant is coming about! She’s trying to rake us!”

    Midshipman Philip Carradine was visibly agitated as he watched the French ship of the line laboriously present its figurehead to HMS Spritely, its canvas sails catching the wind and billowing out like massive bed sheets on an oversized clothesline. He looked at the Spritely’s captain, John Quinn, a much older man who seemed unfazed by the sight of the enemy three Decker closing on his ship. Quinn clasped his hands behind his back and puffed out his chest, the fingers of his right hand tracing the outline of the wedding ring he wore on his left. “Commodore Le Clerc is no doubt chastising himself for taking his flagship out of Le Havre without any escort Master Carradine,” he remarked to his young charge. “If you would Philip, perhaps you would train your glass on her figurehead?”

    “Aye Sir.” The boy replied, peering through his tarnished, second hand spyglass. “It appears to be a sphinx, sir.”
    “Indeed lad, very good.” The Captain replied, peering at the approaching ship through his own telescope. “However, with the wind a quarter astern, I very much doubt the sphinx shall have opportunity to pose us a riddle. Le Clerc has been so occupied with the Pitt; he has lined himself up very neatly with our starboard guns. Mr. Maxwell!” The Spritely’s first Lieutenant was instantly on the quarterdeck, kicking aside a sizable splinter as he approached the captain. “Gun crews ready sir.”

    “Well done Tom. How’s your head?” the captain asked, affording his first Lieutenant a brief glance before his eyes returned to the approaching Puissant. Lieutenant Maxwell plied a smudged handkerchief to his sweaty face, dabbing at the trickle of blood that had stained his powdered hair. “Stings sir, I suppose I’ll live.”

    “If the letter from your wife you so eagerly shared with us at my table last week is any indication, I’d say you’d damn well better live,” Captain Quinn replied, allowing himself a smile. “I expect you to name that son of yours after me, of course.”

    Lieutenant Maxwell flashed a weary but toothy grin. “Shall we fire sir?”
    “In a moment, Mr. Maxwell,” the captain replied. “Can you see the Frenchies on her deck, Mr. Carradine?”
    “One of the blighters has an ostrich feather in his hat, sir.” The young midshipman replied.
    “Not for long Philip. Mr. Maxwell, fire if you please.”
    Lieutenant Maxwell abruptly turned, cupped his hand to his mouth and bellowed the captain’s order across the length of the gun deck: “Starboard battery, fire as you bear!”

    The Spritely rocked back on her port side as her starboard guns unleashed a rolling broadside of solid shot at the stem of the Puissant. Looking through his glass, Midshipman Carradine could see the splinters fly from her foremast and an unseated bow chaser smash through the rail and fall over the side, into the white-capped sea, then the wind carried the smoke of the Spritely’s guns into his field of vision.

    “Is the sphinx still there Mr. Carradine?” Captain Quinn asked, his hands still clasped behind his back. “I can’t say, sir. The ostrich feather is certainly gone though.”
    To the amusement of those on the quarterdeck, the Captain released a hoarse bark of a laugh, and briefly doffed his gold trimmed hat. “Good lad. Mr. Maxwell, my compliments to the gunners.”
    “Gun crews, reload!” yelled Lieutenant Maxwell, as he knelt to pick up his hat, which had lain on the deck for most of the action, shot off his head by a French sharpshooter in the Puissant's rigging.

    “Any signal from the Pitt?" Captain Quinn asked.
    “Aye sir!” called Major Anthony Phipps, the Spritely’s commander of marines, the white facings on his red coat stained with sweat and gunpowder. “She’s just off the Puissant’s stern!”
    The captain peered through his spyglass. “By God, she’s holed! Why don’t you launch the boats, Thornton, you stubborn fool?” he growled, cursing the obstinate character of his counterpart captain.

    “Men are jumping from her rigging sir!” Major Phipps cried, looking through his own glass. “Oh Lord, she’s capsizing!” And indeed, the smaller British ship was listing badly due to the punishment it had sustained in combat with the larger Puissant.

    The captain set his jaw. “Mr. Maxwell, disengage! Bring us about and launch the boats, I want rescue parties in the water post haste!
    “But Sir!” cried Midshipman Carradine. “The Puissant!”
    To hell with her!” the captain snarled. “Let her limp back to Le Havre, blast it! I said disengage, Mr. Maxwell!”

    “Captain,” Lieutenant Maxwell gasped, gesturing to the enemy ship, his eyes wide with awe and fear. “She’s afire.”

    Captain Quinn turned just in time to see flames engulf the French man of war’s mainsails, spreading up the mast. In a moment the tarred deck would be on fire, and then the painted hull, and then the flames would find the powder magazine …
    The captain removed his hat and his powdered wig as well, revealing the few wispy strands of hair that clung to his aging scalp as he took in the spectacle of the flaming ship drifting closer and closer.

    “God Save us.”
    Entrant 1 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Swan was listing badly. Her deck was tilting crazily towards the breaking waves from the wake of the other boats. Fancy and the Stable had pulled along side a Spainyard boat. Fancy was aflame. Sykes could see it through his salt filled eyes. Grunting as another breaker added more pain to his existance. Well at least his wounds would be clean when they found him. The cries, screams and prayers flooded in and our of this throbbing head through his water clogged ears. A slow glance down at his arms as they slowly lost purchase on his drift wood raft. His left arm was barely recognisable. A mass of blood, bone and muscle. His right was little better. His hand was covered in slashes and pieces of timber. Sykes knew he wasn't one for this world much longer. The Spainyard had fired a broadside shortly after the Swan had sent the chains up into her sails. Unfortunatly the Spainyards broadside was aimed below the water line. Their aim was off and the shots had blasted straight through the mid deck with ease. What was normally chaos turned to hell. Jackson had been struck by one of the balls as they ripped through the ship. There wasn't much left of him. "" wasn't much better the 16 pounder had slipped off it's mount and crushed his foot. Sykes hearing the Swans broadside was busying himself grabbing another chain shot. Hearing the Spainyards round he'd turned around lifting an arm to protect his face only to have his body ripped by the splinters and sharpnel released. The second broadside struck true below the waterline and staggering around in hell Sykes had finally made it top side and collasped into the water.

    In reflection perhaps it would have been better not to have protected his eyes. That way he wouldn't have to see the destruction of his arms. Or the bodies of Jackson and "". It was made worse when it became apparent that his left arm was unusable to hold himself afloat and by luck he'd found some planking to lay across. But with the wavessapping his strength just as fast as the chilling water the thoughts in the back of Sykes mind about lack of a rescue were getting loud. Grunting as he tried to haul himself out of the water more he only slipped further in. Trying to kick out with his legs, which were only slashed and still working he was further compounded as a strong cramp wracked through his left leg. Slipping completely under as he jerked in response Sykes fought back to the surface with his one good arm. Coughing and trying to stretch out the cramp and failing the sailor sighed and rested his chin on the closest plank trying to catch his breath. Hearing an all might bang he glanced up seeing the flames covering the Fancy roar into a more hellish existance. Judging from the explosion the flames had found the magazine. As the wave of heat struck him and forced his eyes shut he could feel the plank shfiting from under his weaked arms. Not long now then he thought. As the next wave forced his raft from his numbed, dead hands Sykes tried to tread water but his water logged clothes and cramped leg hindered his efforts. As he saw the sky darken as he sunk through his stinging eyes. Pain erupted in places he thought wouldn't hurt. An iron band of pressure added itself as he was strarved of oxygen. His struggle continued and as he thought he was getting closer he felt his mind leave him as his mouth opened to take in water. A final burst of excrutiating pain from his lungs as they filled with water before his eyes glazed over.
    Entrant 2 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A prize, a prize. That was all I ever really wanted. To see myself bathing in the glory of Spanish pieces, of French gold. In the glory of riches from far off lands, carried over deserts by sultans and carefully placed on ships to take them to their destinations. The Heorot, I thought, could get me that prize. he was a fast rigged sloop, which could make it from the cape to Malta in a matter of days, even without topgallants raised. Her crew was a solemn and professional as any could be, especially in the almost God-like prescense of me, her captain. My weekly dining in the Gunroom was as quiet as a funeral on most occasions, not a happy occasion, but the men did their jobs, and they did it well, they did it well. This ship could run as smoothly as ever, should I ever choose to stay in my cot from morning till night. I cant remember the last flogging, for even if I feel as liverish as lucifer, I could never find a reason to flog these old brutes.

    But there shall be no great merchantman today. Today we have encountered a fleet, with great lumbering ships of the lines, their hulls higher than the main topsail, their cannons loaded and ready for deafening blows against my hull. I cannot escape, they have the weather gauge, so today we fight. I must get between them, run through them like the most daring pirate ever to sail. They cannot seperate, they must stay together, for then I can dart between them like a nimble mouse, they not firing a single shot, not wanting to damage their ally. I recognise the first ship. Two weeks ago it had caught us, and we had pretended to be Ragusan merchants with the plague on board, they shall not fall for that again. So I give the order to load, and demand the men to spill hte wind from our sheets, to flounder and not appear a threat, I hope to God it works.

    They are nearer, rays of light flicker off the enemy captains' glasses, their front cannons fire at us, whizzing over head, and our chasers reciprocate, sending balls of heavy iron through their sails. The ships are now win a perfect line, now is the time. I give the order to turn. The ship answers immediatly, cutting through the water, crossing a very learge T, and now facing our enemies. We barrel forward, the sloop cutting through the water quickly, nimbly. It was a ruse. The ships spill the wind from their sails at different intervals, each now in a position to give us a broadside. I mutter a prayer under my breath, for I have now truly encountered the valley of death. I order the men to take cover as we pass the first ship, its broadside echoing across the vast ocean as millions of tiny lead balls sweep the ship. They fired Grape, the bastards. Cries of the wounded and dying emerge from the noise as the balls perforate the crew. The next boradside, I fear, will be much worse.

    My prediction is true. A great wall of chain shot spews from the belly of the beast beside us, shattering the mizzen, which slowly creaks as it begins its descent downwards, taking men and rigging with it. As the Mizzen plunges into the seas we recieve another broadside, once more full of grape. Shards of lead and wood skip across the ship, breaking heads, bones, and morale. I have had enough, I jump into the gun room and send my men to the cannons for a broadside on the last ship. When we are lined up, I shout fire, a great mass of smoke and lead fill the air, as the heorot and the French ship exchange a simultanious broadside. 32 pound lead balls turn the hull into swiss cheese. Water pours in as the crew tries desperately to save her. We abandon the fruitless effort and climb on deck, I give the fateful order to abondon ship. Men plunge into the cold water and the Heorot slowly sinks into the abyss, we watch as the French ship with fire upon takes fire, a small bit of jubilance rises in me, as I know we hit a poweder store, but it is short lived. I too must take the fateful plunge into the water, in the hope the French take me prisioner. I once dreamed of prizes, now I must face the Seas of Wrath.
    Entrant 3 -Neige Noire
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    I hope the author doesn't mind that I resized the pic.


    The Cursed Boat

    My ship leaves for London this evening and I haven't seen a mist this thick for decades. I barely managed to find my way back to the inn. My head is still spinning from the yesterday's spree at Bill's. Fresh game, Millie's gooseberry tart and the sweetest ale that seemed to be poring from the heaven itself, filled our stomachs and hearts too, mind you. But amidst it all something happened that gave me hard time falling asleep that night, as drunk as I was. I met an old man with a terribly scarred face. It seemed to have gotten burned pretty badly once. He ordered nothing but a mug of ale and sat down right next to me. He stank of fish.

    "I have a tale. A tale of a curse that haunts the deep blue waters? Do you wish to hear it?" the queer man asked me.
    "As long as it keeps my eyes open," I answered, feeling rather indifferent to and untouched by any curse or anything else of the superstitious sort.
    "The tale you shall now hear is called The Cursed Boat," he began.
    What I heard for the next two hours shook me. The man's face was so ugly I couldn't stare at it for very long, but at some points in his tale I couldn't do anything BUT stare, shocked as I was, mind you.

    He spoke of a cursed frigate that appeared only during storms or in mists. When ships got lost in bad weather they would see a pale flickering light and, thinking they had reached land, they would turn and follow it. But they would find only a burning frigate inside the mist, sailing silently, in the middle of nowhere.

    "Once we had closed in," the scarred man whispered "we turned pale as death. Emptiness. Blood freezing emptiness. No cries for help, no screams of despair, no nothing. Just silent, burning emptiness. Not daring to even breathe, we watched the front mast crack and fall down, as our ship glided nearer and nearer the accursed thing. Once we were so close that we could feel the warmth of the flames, we heard a sound that froze our hearts, a sound that seemed to be the worst sound one could hear coming from that burning ship. It was a voice. A voice of a child.

    "Help me!" were the echoing words that broke the dead silence.

    And at that moment the flames gave way and uncovered, to our dismay, a young lad tied to a mast, struggling helplessly.

    "Board that thing!" followed a growl of an order from our captain.

    Despite many protests, that were not unreasonable, given the circumstance, we boarded the ship. Risking their lives, two of our men rescued the boy and brought him back safe and sound. Immediately we pulled back and left the burning ship just in time, as its deck collapsed and the whole thing started to sink. Silently.

    "What is your name, lad?" I asked the boy.

    He stood still and motionless. He was garbed in the queerest looking clothing I had ever seen. But he did not answer me. He watched the ship sink completely and didn't bother to talk to me at all. I got angry and shook him, but when he turned I fell backwards with a cry and crawled away from... it as fast as my bones allowed.

    The boy's face was empty and only his eyes gleamed with a black light, as he said in a low, resonant voice: "The curse has been lifted at last. Now it is yours. Keep it well."

    And with that he raised his arms and the whole ship went ablaze."

    After minutes of silence, I presumed that was the end of his tale.

    "But... how did you survive?" I asked, trying, unsuccessfully, to look rather unalarmed.

    "I do not know..."

    And that was the end of our conversation.

    But it was not the story itself nor the way the old man told it that robbed me of a good night's sleep. It was the fact that I had heard a very similar tale before. But unlike this one, it told also that the flames leave one crewman alive to be the carrier of the burning bane until he'd find the next ship to lay its curse upon.
    Entrant 4 - ♔Oggie♔
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    ‘Mylord the heathens are too strong, we can’t hold them!’ ‘We have to hold. We are the only thing that’s between these infidels and the Holy City.’ The battle continued. Everywhere you could hear the cries of the wounded, the sound of steel against steel and the high pitched noise that arrows make when they fly through the air. The Christian knights were vastly outnumbered by the Muslim army. ‘Hold lads, hold, for Saint George!’ Again the exhausted knights drove off the Muslim charge. They couldn’t hold it much longer. Morale was low, too many soldiers had died. They were tired and outnumbered and the Muslims charged again. ‘Make ready boys, here they come again!’ There were the heathens again. ‘Allahu akbar’ they cried while they charged the Christian knights. There were simply too much. This would be the last charge, now they would die.
    ‘Holy mother Mary’ someone yelled. ‘There! There! On the hill, we are saved!’ Both Muslims and Christians turned and looked up the hill. There was a large cross with the sun right behind it. The Holy Cross. Christ send them help. Hundreds of soldiers came marching behind the cross. ‘Dieu le veut! Dieu le veut!” they cried as the charged down upon the flank of the Muslim army. Morale was high again. This would day would not be a defeat. This day would be Gods victory.
    Entrant 5 -Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    The warm Italian wind blew calmly across the battlements. Not a sound could be heard, the calm before the battle. Fear could be seen in both men’s eyes as the two armies met. Venice had decided to attack a Milanese castle, and brought a huge army to do so. The walls were packed with archers and the courtyard with spearmen. Suddenly, the dreaded sound was heard, Venetian drums roared up, as their army began marching forward…
    The archers and crossbowmen on the walls readied their weapons as the approaching wave of Venetian militia surged forward. A twang resounded loudly around the castle as a volley was released, followed by another, and other. A pile of dead men were soon around the castle, as siege towers slowly lumbered up, and a battering ram tried to take down the gate. Suddenly, a loud crash was heard, the Venetians had started to fire their trebuchets. Milanese soldiers yelled and panicked as flaming boulders roared about them, tossing the castle into flamed, and the men into a trance of fear.
    Finally, the ram had broken through the gates, as furious hand to hand fighting ensued. But to the defender’s dread, the siege towers opened as well, as swordsmen rushed onto the walls, hacking and slashing at the archers. A furious defense ensued for another hour, thousands of corpses littered the walls and ground, a river of blood roared freely across the streets, mixed in with dirt, flame, and yelling. Soon enough, only a small amount of Milanese knights had been left, they garrisoned themselves inside the keep, holding the door steady as loud rumbled echoed through the building of a ram trying at the gates, and stones ricocheting off the stone walls.
    The Milanese general now stood up on a table, and gave a rousing speech…
    “Men, we have defended this castle with our lives, these cursed Venetians shall feel the true power of the Milanese… If we die today, we shall all know that we have not died in vain, and that our death shall be avenged! For honor, and glory, and victory!!!”
    The men yelled as the door crashed open and a surge of Venetians came forward.


    TotW 105a - Against All Odds
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Winner - wowbanger

    Entrant 1 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Turmoil and Torture

    My Mommy used to drink, My Mommy used to drink, Turmoil & Torture,
    My Mommy used to drink. Then she would beat me, then she would beat me, help me, help me, Ignorance & Bliss…..

    Love Me, love me, love me now. Turmoil & Torture - Ignorance & Bliss.
    Okay, I’m older now. Mommy still drinky drink, but I’m okay now. Let’s help others cuz they don’t know how. Love me, love me, beat me if you can.

    Bitc h bitc h, moan moan, he said she said, fix me, fix them, help me now!!!!
    Life is very simple and lovely if you only know how. Go here go there, do
    this, then do that. If you really want your problems solved them it’s as simple as that.

    Fix them, fix them cuz it makes us feel better. Love me, love me, love me now!!! Yak yak, bla bla, all day long. To hear the mundane minutia of others, makes one withdraw. Turmoil & Torture begets Ignorance & Bliss…

    Hide me, hide me, cuz I can’t run from others problems. Fix me, fix them, all day long…..Everything will be wonderful when I fix me by fixing them….

    Turmoil & Torture - Ignorance & Bliss….
    Entrant 2 - Beckitz
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Hideki Sato knew very little of the world, but he did know fear. For far longer than he cared to remember, fear had been a constant part of his life – like an odious guest he could not seem to expel from his home. Long ago it had stood with him beside the nursing bed as he watched his son come into the world; and as a young boy himself, when the older boys in the village had tried to bully him, he knew it’s frantic footsteps had fallen beside his own.

    Once again the warrior found himself running, but fear was no longer with him on that day. Everything he had ever agonized over – every last anxiety and triviality – had fallen away, trampled beneath his mail-clad feet as they bounded across the open field. Not far ahead of him, steel still sparkling beneath the light of the dying sun, lay the destination he knew he had been headed towards all along; only this time – this final time – there would be no fear to hold back his blade.

    A scream began to pass his lips; a scream of battle, yes, but also one of amazement – for no sooner had he raised his sword to strike then his enemies seemed to bend and warp beneath the rays of the sunset! One-by-one they seemed to change from faceless enemies into the visages of familiar friends. Somewhere, flickering ethereally beneath the glare, he could see the smiling faces of those he had left behind; of his son, his wife, and all of the faithful friends he had once held dear to his heart. With one mind and one voice they beckoned him onward; his legs turned faster and faster beneath him. Today – he knew – today, with no fear to hold him back, he would at last join them all.

    Somewhere, in a different world he heard a hoarse command shouted – with wild abandon and sunlight burning in his eyes, he lifted his blade and swung.
    Entrant 3 - E.K
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 




    Sunset




    I lifted the visor of my sweat encrusted helmet, trying to get a clearer look at the brilliant azure sunset that painted the sky. The sunset reminded me of home, the better days before this dammed war took away my life and propelled me into the horrors of war. Every night I thought of my family back home. The sweet aroma of my mother’s stew, the excitement of market day but most of all I missed Rosaline, my childhood sweetheart and soon to be wife. All these fond memories seem to be in another life, a life without worry or stress, a life where I longed to be.


    My day dreams were broken up by the strong voice of the company commander “Form up! Enemy in Sight, prepare to charge” I was used to this, I had spent the last five years listening to this order. With a sigh I hefted the heavy wooden lance with that razor sharp iron tip into the comfortable resting place just below my shoulder. I lowered my visor letting the darkness engulf me once more as I peered through the tiny eye slits at the waiting infantry down below. I was to charge down the hill, to do my duty, to die.
    .
    Entrant 4 - mrcrusty
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    "Bushido"

    Takashi Munemitsu looked across the field of battle. It was large, flat, great for pitched battle, yet it had a pristine serenity to it. Something he couldn't put into words. It was simply stunning.

    The weather however, was less impressive. It was a cloudy, smoggy afternoon. Rays of sunshine would occasionally break through the clouds, but for the most part it was a most unsatisfying climate to an otherwise excellent occasion.

    The enemy were arrayed in green, their clothing proving difficult to distinguish from the grass. Takashi wondered whether the colour of their clothing would be a help or a hindrance. He soon realised that he was merely being distracted by a petty issue. "There will be much honor and dishonor gained today." he said aloud. No response, though others around him nodded silently.

    He looked up to the mounted warriors, with their General at it's head. He looked like he was about to say something. Takashi smiled to himself, "can't resist giving a big speech before the big battle, eh?" he thought.

    Suddenly, the General's horse reared on it's hind legs, giving the General extra height. The beast neighed, though to Takashi, it sounded more like a roar.

    "My friends!" The General bellowed, "We have come here today at the behest of our enemy."

    Silence.

    "We did not wish to upset the peace of our two clans, yet they have shown our civility no end of contempt by coming here.

    We who stand here bravely, do so to protect our way of life. Our friends. Our loved ones. Our home. Our clan.

    They come here to take all that is rightfully ours and so, they come into our lands thinking that we are weak. They come here thinking we cannot defend ourselves. They come here thinking they can beat us.

    I know better. All of you know better. And by the end of this battle, they will know better!

    So fight, my brothers! Fight! For Honor! For Family! For Clan!!"

    Takashi looked around as men around him cheered, he too felt emboldened by the General's speech, his words filling him with courage. He felt renewed, invigorated. "They are never going to beat us", he thought. But he didn't just think that, he knew that.

    His eyes welled up, and as the army charged at the enemy, men screaming as they ran towards their destiny, Takashi couldn't control his emotions, he was ablaze with pride at who he was, doing what he was, and the honor that came with it.

    Like many of the other men, Takashi ran with wild abandon, screaming at the top of his lungs and as he moved closer and closer to his destiny, one thought pulsed in his mind.

    "I love being an historical reenactor."
    Entrant 5 - Neige Noire
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The sun had long gone beyond the unreachable horizon as we rode into the dusk. The hooves of our horses thundered with a pleasant echoing rumble. We rode silently for a reason we didn't know ourselves. A certain premonition seemed to fill the air about us, but a premonition of what?

    In the hours of dusk the world was changed. It never looked exactly the same in plain daylight or at night. The land about us now, the hills, the trees, the rivers - all seemed venerable somehow. And yet exposed.

    Each of us was buried in his own thoughts as we rode. The grasshoppers escorted us with a concerto of chirrs. Just a few hours ago we had mercilessly hacked down and slaughtered innocent peasants. Whole families of them. We shrieked like animals and gutted their men and raped their women and then burned them all in the shed without a slightest drop of regret, and all that we did with a delight that was now torturing us. Who are we?

    The trees seemed to be chanting in the soft wind as if ancient druids weaving some mystic spell. Enchanting. And yet menacing. A falcon was gliding through the sky majestically, untouched by any earthly affliction, he pierced the sky leisurely. Is it not unfair that such lowly creatures as birds have such a privilege of freedom? And who are we? Where are the young knights who swore to protect the women and the weak?

    The waving grass seemed to me a sea of green. A sea into which I wanted to drown. A sea of freedom. A sea of repentance. All it took to sustain itself was sun and rain. Warmth and water. It asked for so little. How was it that we were never satisfied? That we were never sustained? That we were never contented with what we had?

    Such were my thoughts as we rode up the hill and looked down onto the next village. The very last reflection of light fell onto the faces of children and their parents playing and running around merrily after a long and hard day of work. Peace and happiness beamed out of them. A happiness we knew we had never felt.

    Entrant 6 - Dave Strider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    --------------------

    The Battle of Gettysburg - The South's Greatest Victory
    A Memoir by Lt. Gen. Thomas J. Jackson, Confederate Army

    There were many things that occured on those three days. So many things. Things could have gone better for us, and they definitely could have gone better for the Yanks. But, as always, it appears that God, as usual, was, and still is, on our side. Still, things happened in those days that should not have.

    I remember clearly how things started. There was one factor that made this campaign unforgettable, more so than any other; The heat - the Pennsylvania Summer is unbearably hot, especially while wearing these damned uniforms. I saw men drop from their ranks while marching. Minutes later, they were dead from heat exhaustion. But, I suppose this is my philosophy in action - "Better to lose one man from marching than 5 men from fighting".

    Things formally began when a friend of Longstreet's - also a Scout, his name being Henry Harrison - found information on enemy troop movements. He spotted a large column of Infantry with supporting Cavalry moving north-west from Washington, informing Longstreet that the entire Federal force was marching towards the divided Confederate forces. Longstreet informed Lee, whom quickly called a council of war. From there, we formed a plan - Longstreet and Hill would converge on the town from the North and West. My Corps would act as a reserve, ready to send a massive shock into the enemy lines if needed. Stuart, meanwhile, would send scouts and foraging parties in every possible direction that the Federals could approach, taking all the food possible and gathering information on the terrain.

    As our troops converged on the town, and eventually took the heights beyond, a messenger from General Stuart informed Lee that, indeed, we had chosen the right time to take this town. Our advanced element, consisting of the divisions of Anderson and Heth of Hill's Corps, were under attack from the combined forces of Two Federal Corps; Reynolds and Hancock, a combined force of over 23,000 men compared to the 16,000 men of Heth and Anderson's divisions. Our men held the line, and held it well; The fact that our men were on high ground probably helped. Just to be safe, two batteries were sent forward, and started firing canister and shrapnel shot point blank into the Federal ranks.

    The two corps soon retreated with heavy loss. Hill and Longstreet, at that point, committed both of their entire forces to holding the high ground. I put my boys in a longer line just behind, so as to provide cover of the first line and to counter a breakthrough wherever one occured, if there ever was one. This would prove useful the next day.

    The second day began with the sound of heavy artillery fire coming from the ground below us. Federal Howitzers and Rifled Guns were pounding our positions for hours on end. We had our troops lie down on the reverse slopes of the ridges so as to keep them out of harm's way. One of my reserve brigades, stationed more to the south near the bottom of Cemetary Ridge, near a Peach Orchard, saw what was happening; The bombardment was a diversion.

    Coming through the gap between two large hills and the ridge, an entire Federal Corps was marching through in an attempt to outflank us. I hastily ordered General Rodes' Division to move south to meet them. Rodes outnumbered them slightly, and hit them as they came up; Eventually, they had taken heavy losses and were disorganized, so they withdrew to the top of the smaller hill. Rodes reformed his men and sent them after the Federal Corps, but the absolutely apalling terrain caused greivous casualties for his Division. This is one of the flaws in the battle. Had we simply brought up a few batteries of Artillery, we could have pushed them off with Shell and Shrapnel shot. But instead, we pushed them back and lost a quarter of Rodes' division for it.

    However, if the attack itself was a disaster, the result was much more favorable; With the two hills(known as the Little- and Big-Round-Tops) taken, we had an excellent vantage point for Artillery. Stuart sent one of his brigades to dismount and hold the ground, while Rodes' Division assisted. His Division's Artillery, meanwhile, fired counterbattery and destroyed several Federal Guns. The Federals sent countless attacks to try to retake the two hills, at one point even surrounding the hill and "tightening the noose"; moving their entire surrounding force forward in a mass attack.

    Our men held out. Barely. But eventually, the division of General Johnson moved to the hills and counterattacked. The Stonewall Brigade and the Louisiana Tigers, both of these brigades in Johnson's division, drove the Federals back with a fierocity that I have never seen, and never wish to see again in my life.

    The second day had ended. Federal casualties were much higher than those of our army, and Lee decided that, with the Federals exhausted and demoralized, that we would attack tomorrow. In the night, preparations were made; walkways made from planks and logs. Artillery brought up to support the attack. Stuart's Cavalry riding around behind the Federals to trap them. The plan was ready. The Federals had better have slept tight, for the next day would be one they would never forget.

    On the final day, the Federals were awakened at 5:30 in the morning with deafening roars and explosions. Men died in their sleep. Men were awakened to find they had severed limbs. The bombardment continued for hours on end until 9:00, when over 35,000 of our Infantry stepped out off the high ground and began the long descent down the hill, some aiming to fire as they walked. The Federals were being attacked from two sides. They fired back for as long as their morale would allow, and then they broke and ran. But they ran right into Stuart's 7,000 Cavalrymen, who charged into the Federal lines, killing and capturing many Yankees.

    The combined Infantry and Cavalry assault captured all of the Federal Generals, tens of thousands of Infantry, and about three-quarters of the Federal Colors involved. The Army of the Potomac simply ceased to exist in the space of three days. This battle persuaded the British to come in on our side, and within a month, Washington itself was beseiged by over 60,000 Confederates and 55,000 British. Washington fell 3 weeks later, and our independence won.

    At Gettysburg, the Federals sustained over 52,000 casualties; 2,500 Killed, 12,500 Wounded, and 37,000 Captured or Missing. By contrast, we suffered 7,000 casualties; 500 Killed, 6,000 Wounded, and 500 Missing. That battle was the spark that lit the torch of independence for the South.

    Entrant 7 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Against All Odds



    I was the last. Against all the odds I was the only man in that square that survived. Around me lay the bodies of both crusader and infidel alike. My companions, friends and brothers, everyone I held dear now lay in a crumpled mass around me as I knelt and wept for them. Why did I have to survive to bear the burden of grief alone?

    I had joined the crusade to escape from the grief that gripped me after my wife died during child birth. Initially things went well; I joined with a company of knights heading towards Genoa where we could take ship to the holy lands. I got on well with the company commander (a Templar knight by the name of Raymond) and quickly made friends among my new companions. The voyage was good and we ran into few storms, although some of the men still suffered from terrible sea-sickness. The days and weeks of the journey were taken up with sword practices and playing dice with my new found friends, I actually won a healthy profit much to their annoyance.

    Eventually, we landed at the crusader port of Acre and I amazed at the wonders of that city. The exotic goods on offer in the markets, the beautiful women, the buildings, the magnificent cathedral, all of it astounded me. We stayed but a few days in Acre before news arrived that our company was moving on to give battle to the infidel Turks, though I could have stayed in that fair city for an eternity.

    After a few days marching through the baking heat of the desert we eventually sighted a smallish town flying an infidel banner proudly above the gates. Our commander quickly ordered us to make camp and prepare for a speedy assault at first light the next day. We set about lighting fires, preparing food and, perhaps most importantly, sharpening swords and making ladders to scale the town’s walls before settling down for some much needed rest.

    Just before dawn broke the next morning we made our final preparations before the attack, checking the ladders, fitting our armours and all the little rituals that each man has before battle. Then we started to advance. At first things went well, we attacked from a small valley and as such were able to get close to the wall before the alarm was raised in the town. This meant that we were able to easily take the walls with little resistance. It was as we moved deeper into the town that things went badly wrong for the company.

    Ambushed from the tiny side streets and alleys we were quickly surrounded and outnumbered. Although we fought well and slew many of our foes there was nothing we could do to hold against the numbers and fanaticism of the Arab soldiers. One by one my companions fell around me until, against all odds, I was the last left. I was prepared to accept my fate and die there with my friends, there was nothing left to live for anymore. However, Fate had other plans.

    Behind me I heard a horn and the thunder of hooves. Looking round I saw the crusader heavy cavalry charging down the street to smash into the Turkish soldiers. Quickly throwing myself to the ground I watched as the horses pounded overhead and crashed into the enemy. Those who didn’t die in the charge turned and fled with the horsemen in hot pursuit.

    I had survived against all the odds, but at what cost? Looking at the death and destruction around me I knelt amongst my fallen comrades and wept. I joined the Crusade to escape grief, instead I had just found more.
    Entrant 8 - Eazyrider
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Turkey 18:45 GMT, May 25, 2005, Atatülrk, Olympiyat Stad


    He realized he couldn’t breathe; his lungs clenched tight in apprehension. He was paralyzed and transfixed. His body perspired openly under the strain and his muscles were tensed. The roar of thousands around him had subsided abruptly; an eerie silence floated in the stadium. And Shevchenko prepared to take the final penalty.

    But he couldn’t. He couldn’t bring himself to it. The immensity of the night’s events bore down on his shoulders, and he felt he would crumple under the pressure. He had to take it; he had to. He had done it hundreds of times before, and he could do it again; he was a professional; this was his duty. He could feel the entirety of Milan’s hopes and ambitions heaved onto his back; as the team stood expectantly, away from his field of vision. The weight of the club’s honor, compacted in the shield, and burdened on his chest. He could not take the strain.

    His mind worked furiously, as he run into the hundreds of questions spilling over the implications. The possibilities. The outcome. Yet his heart still rang with the images of the night, against all the odds:
    He watched with joy as Maldini’s shot inched past Dudek, before crashing into the back of the net. The response was tremendous; it was the joy of a nation. Hundreds of thousands of triumphant screams echoed boisterously and filled him. They were ahead, and a step closer to becoming champions; to attaining their dream; their reality.

    He broke away from the last defender, adrenaline pumping through his veins. He could feel the anticipation around him, and the goal beckoned. But he was a professional, he took his kick; but not at the goal; the ball flew delicately over to Crespo. His friend, and teammate hammered the shot into the back of the net. They were met by rapturous applause; the red and black stripes flew high within the heart of the crowd.

    Kaka moved with the grace of a gazelle before delivering the killing pass to Crespo chipping it elegantly over Dudek’s outreached hand. His heart soared as the whistle blew for half time. It was coming together like a dream, he could feel the warm contention amongst his team and the sheer joyous excitement amidst the crowd. His gaze drifted amongst the delighted supporters before falling upon Liverpool. His joy was quickly replaced by empathy. The fans watched the progression, heartbroken, their faces either buried in their palms or sad and emotionless. The players moved silently into the dressing room in melancholy silence; their hopes and ambitions shattered upon the string that dressed the back of the goal. None of them spoke to each other; it was a feeling of dejected acceptance.

    In the dressing room the warmth of comradeship fulfilled him. They knew they had won it, they knew they had performed. Handshakes, smiles and pats on his back only reaffirmed this feeling. In the background he heard something start up. It was a buzz that soon inflated into the voices of the fans. It was a chant that had risen from the silence. It was sung with determination and he could feel it through the bricks and concrete that separated the two worlds. It were the fans of Liverpool and they sung the one song they hoped to lift themselves with: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. He watched as his teammates winced and dismissed the chant irritably, but he could not; he could sense the energy growing, he could feel their hearts bolster. He knew what the Liverpool players would be feeling, and he could sense their backs straighten, their heads tilt up and their resolve harden; it astounded him; there was a growing force. The chant carried through the night.

    Steven Gerrard ran past him, the captain of Liverpool. Shevchenko felt his aura; his determination that had replaced the acceptance of defeat. The ball curled through the air and was met by the head of the Liverpool skipper as it pummeled into the net. He could imagine the clenched fists of the Liverpool fans, the silent ‘yes’ muttered angrily under their breath; they would get there, regardless of the odds. They cheered for their team. Yet the players simply slapped hands and nodded acknowledging; they knew this was only the beginning of their struggle, but they were determined.

    Sincer received the pass, moving the ball to the side he opened his path to goal. The shot whizzed close to the ground before thumping into the bottom corner. The crowd erupted into cheers, as they danced to Liverpool’s passion. Shevchenko felt fear for the first time of the night; the small Liverpool resistance had now formed into an imminent threat; the scoreboard read 3-2: only one goal ahead. He was afraid of the infectious resolve that spread amongst the opposition and their fans. Like a plague of goodwill. His teammates now understood the importance of the goal, their backs shivered in alarm and at the ferocity of the Liverpool supporters. Liverpool danced.

    The Milanese crowd had fallen silent; anything could happen now. A quick back heel from the Liverpool striker put the ball back into Gerrard’s feet. The goal was open, the opportunity had arrived, their chance to level and the moment passed in an instant. He was on the ground. It took a moment for everyone to comprehend what had happened and then it was madness. The crowd went into a frenzy of angry appeal, thousands screaming for penalty. The Milanese players raised their hands futilely as the referee pointed to the spot. The Liverpool fans kissed and hugged; their chance had arrived.

    Xabi Alonso walked up to the penalty spot, his body fidgeting with nervousness. Forty thousand Liverpool fans held their breath inside the stadium, hundreds of thousands held their breath outside and they were begging for air. He took the shot quickly and the keeper got his finger to it sending it back. He wanted the goal, but he wanted the goal! Quick as ever he moved pounded the rebounded ball back into the net.
    The crowd exploded. Happy, yet shocked their angry conviction had manifested into the form of the Liverpool reaction: the team and fans went crazy; they had equalized and they were now an inch away from their dream. The dream they fought an upstream battle towards, against all odds.

    Penalties were upon them, and the grinding, brutal, nerve racking process had boiled down to this kick. Shevchenko’s kick. Win or lose.

    His mind stall rang with the images of the night. He felt helpless and overwhelmed. He had to take the kick; he took the kick.

    Even before he had taken it he knew where it was going. He had missed and Liverpool had won. Against all odds.

    Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHtjmofqBeM
    All of it.



    Entrant 9 - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Right foot, Left Foot, Right foot, Left foot


    These are the only words that I can think of as I slowly saunter up to my place, 10 feet from my opponant. I stop, and stand, staring straight forwardinto the eyes of my opponant. the world stands still, save for the constant drizzle of the cold rain as it deflects of of my armor, as an arrow to the white man's armor. My opponant stares back, there will be no backing down. As I come to this realization A scowl slowly envelopes my face as the wind whips through the tall grass, howling at us, mocking us for our honor. But it is our honor, and our Honor, my Honor, I must defend. My opponent stands erect, a mocking look on his face as he calmly glances from side to side, almost admiring the beauty of our surroundings. He moves suddenly, my hand flies to my Katana. His movement was not that of an agressor, his movements become more deliberate as he sidles over to the flowers beside us. His picks on and, after smelling it, says to me "I have picked this flower before its time. No one else may now admire its beauty. I ask you, do not force me to do the same to you. I do not reply, I have made my choice, I will fight. My honor is worth more than my life, and if I do not defend it, then all is lost. "Very Well" he says.




    His hand moves and in a flash he has brought his Katana to bear. He is a menacing sight, His armor a dark red, almost as if it had been colored with the blood of those who had opposed him in the past. But I hope to put his swordsmanship to rest on this day. I place my hand defiantly upon my Katana and draw it. He lunges forward, and in a flash our swords clash. The sound of scraping metal is supplemented with the defeaning boom of Thunder, the storm is getting worse. He lunges again to my right, and I parry left, losing my balance on the slippery ground. He raises his sword high above his head, and brings it down in one swoop. I try to vainly stick my sword up to block the crushing blow, but my attempt fails, His Katana slices into my leg, leaving a deep gash. I raise my head and scream in agony. He steps back. He is toying with me now. A thin smirk comes across his face, he is mocking me, degrading my for my mistakes. I stumble clumsily o my feet, shutting out the pain in my leg. I raise my Katana, and it begins again.




    This time I lunge forward. He raises his sword and deflects my blow, using his momentum to try to bring his sword in contact with my flesh. I quckly move my Katana to block this blow, and in doing so knock my opponant off balance. I sense his weakness and try to explot it. I give him two sharp blows, both of which he deflects, though he stumbles backwards awkwardly. I lunge forward again, but i am too late, he has regained his balance. deflects my blow, and delives one that sends a sharp pain shooting up my arm. It is now I stumblick backwards, grasping my arm as bloods slowly flows out of it. In a fit of rage I lunge forward. He does not bother to raise his sword, but moves his body out of the way. I swing and miss, once more off balance as he slaps me with the falt side of his sword. I spin and look at my opponent once more. The smirk hsa grown more mocking, he believes he will win this batt,e I intend to prove him wrong. I use his hubris against him as I pretend to make another lunge. He predictable moves, and I adjust my swing accordingly. My blade strikes home as it cuts deep into his arm as he howls in pain. The smirk is instantly gone, replaced by the a fury unimaginable. I can no longer deflect his powerful blows. I am helpless as his blades cut deep into my skin. Hell hath no fury like that of my opponent. One more powerful blow and I am down.




    I lie there looking towards my opponent towering over me, his sword raised. The wind howling through the trees, shaking the sea of grass like an ocean. He screams mightily as he begins to bring his sword down for the killing blow. I die, but my Honor remains intact. My vision of my opponenet is replaced by a blinding flash. I once more hear him howl in pain, I watch as a bolt of lightening travels through his sword, incinerating the owner. He screams as the life is sucked out of him and transfered to the sky. I shut my eyes and hold my hand up to block the blinding light. As quickly as it happened it was gone. My opponent low lay before me, once the bain of my existance, now a pitiful mass of charred flesh, spit upon by the rain. I see clearly that Mother Nature has chosen for me to be the flower that shall blossom. My opponent has has been plucked from the Earth, and I only have the Earth itself to thank. I shall give my opponents proper rights, and tell of his braveness in battle, for it is what he deserves, such a brave and fearless fighter; only preserving his honor. But I shall live on, for I have had victory, against all odds.

    Entrant 10 - Orontid
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    A tall figure walked across the wooden bridge on the river. His sandals made soft knocking sounds on the damp wood, its planks partially covered in moss and lichen. At the middle of the bridge, he stopped, drew a deep breath, and exhaled again. This place, he thought, shall determine my fate. Will I run, will I fight? Will I live, will I die?

    The man looked at his weapon. His katana, a long curved thin streak of silver metal, glistened in the sun as he took it out of its decorated sheath. He had wielded it for nearly thirty years, ever since he had inherited it from his father. He had made good use of it - he had never been beaten in a fight. All his enemies had fallen before him in combat. The katana had seen its fair share of blood, and would do so today.

    For the man looked towards the hills that formed the horizon, and could see a large mass of soldiers, carrying spears, swords and bows, heading towards him. On either side of the mass were cavalry, trotting slowly. The enemy made a tremendous crescendo of noise as they marched closer to the man on the bridge.

    He drew deep breaths, preparing himself. He knew now what he had to do, why his daimyo told him to come here. It was to delay the enemy long enough for the daimyo’s army to deploy in a defensive formation, and for the man to kill as many soldiers as possible. The man took his katana and held it upright in both hands, dividing his view in two. He felt like he could split the enemy army with just his sword.

    The man then shuffled his feet into his fighting stance, the same stance he was taught all those years ago. He never forgot the basics he was taught about swordsmanship. All great swordsmen never do. His education had taught him well, and had brought him here, to a place where he could achieve great honour, for himself and for his family name.

    My family, he thought. My wife, still as lovely as the day I met her. My darling children, whom I may never see again. My mother and father, and my two brothers. I will fight for all of you, and I will do my best.

    His thoughts soon evaporated into nothingness, and his mind cleared. For the first enemy soldiers approached, running towards the bridge, and towards him.

    He was ready.


    TotW 106a - Lords of the Bow
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    Winner
    - 'Gunny
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    I wade forward in the combined muck of feces and mud, created by the combination of deep furrows, hard rain, and incessant dysentary that has plagued our men since Harfleur. Glittering French banners litter the sky in an unreal spectacle. We try to count them as we move forward, but there are too many, and for each banner there are over one hundred men. Thousands upon thousands of Fresh French troops, drunk on wine and arrogance, are ready to meeet us, an so we are ready to give bettle. We continue to advance to longbow range, where we once more pound our sharpend stakes into the fround, and use our poleaxes to sharpen them once more. We number 6,000; they number of fice times that number. We are weary and sick; they are fresh and robust.We are screwed; they are victorious. I cannot banish these thought from my mind as I put my weight on my massive bow to bring it down so that I can put the drawstring onto it. On one side of me I place my broadhead arrows, useless against man, but deadly against horses. Our Venetaur orders us to draw, we are about to send a round of arrows into the French ranks. I bring the drawstring back to my ear, an effortless action for me, though impossible for other men. We release, sending hundreds of screaming broadheads towards the French ranks. One, perhaps two men fall, but it is enough. We spur the drunken wretches to battle, and they advance. The horses come at us, albeit very slowly as they try to wade throug hthe muck. The riders attempt to charge as their beasts are hit by a salvo of broadheads, slicing intothe bellies of the animals, bringing them down, their rider with them to be drowned in the muck. Volley after voley smacks into the horsemen, their ranks thinning, tripping over the dead. Only a few reach us, as their riders attempt to spur their horses forward a bit more. We step back, behind our stacks, as the horses impale and kill themsleves, throwing their riders face first into the mud where they either drown, or are killed by an archer's polaxe which, when wielded by an Archer, can crush even the best Milianese plate. The remaining horses run rampent, smashign into the French infantry as they desperately attempt to wade through the muck towards the English Men at Arms. We begin to unleash our bodkins. Screams of pain emerge from the French line as those too foolish to close their visor are blinded. The deadly bodkins punch through the less expensive plates, and create a deadly annoyance for those in the stronger suits.

    They near the English line, and attempt to increase their speed to punch through. The english take a step back, and the French lose their footing. The English counter charge and utterly obliterate the charge, polehammers falling, swords slashing, French falling. Many Frenchmen trip over their dead as they near the line, falling to their death via drowning in the vile concotion we fight in. The French are utterly blind, the English, however, have their visors raised, and can easily parry and deflect the wild French blows. Some French men at arms break off the attack, and the battle becomes a rout, as a second wave charges in. Some of the Frenchmen come at the archers, hoping to kill some of the bastards which slay the Cream of French nobility on a regular basis. But we are unencumbered, our murderous Poleaxe blows combined with our mobilityand lack of armor, serve to make Archers an eaven more deadly target. The French secod wave turnes to panic and death, and so they retreat.

    We slay our Prisoners, for now we have so few men in the battle line, yet hundreds guarding hte prisoners. The French third wave could yet be upon us, and we have no more arrows. The murder stops, however, when it becomes apparent they have had enough. The French retreat, almost like a nasty forshadowing of the future, and St. George has won. This St. Crispin's day, England has triumphed, and the Twin Saints Crispin and Crispinian have had their revenge for Soissons. We have won the day, albeit not without cost, but won it nonetheless. We have acieved victory against all odds, Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'
    Entrant 1 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Lord of the Bow

    “Tell us the story of the dragon again,” screamed the children gathered around Brodir.

    “Ok then,” agreed the elderly retired merchant. “settle yourselves down around the hearth and I will recount the tale of how Smaug the Magnificent destroyed Laketown and met his sorry end one fateful night.

    The children each took their place seated on the fur rugs scattered around the fire and Brodir began to tell his tale.

    “I happened to be visiting Laketown that autumn many seasons ago,” began the old man. “I had taken a boatload of our fine Dorwinion wine up the river to trade with the elves of Mirkwood. I heard around the town that there had recently been a great lot of excitement when the heir of the King Under the Mountain had arrived and had headed towards the Lonely Mountain to reclaim his throne. People remembered the old days when the river ran with gold, forgetting the small matter of the dragon that dwelt in the mountain.

    “I remained a few days in the town until I had concluded my business when decided I would leave the following morning. That evening I made my boat ready to leave before heading back to inn by the docks where I had been staying.

    By now the children were becoming restless and fidgety. They didn’t want to hear about business and trade; they were just waiting for the dragon.

    “Come on, get to the dragon already,” whined one particularly impatient little boy.

    “Learn to have some patience, little one,” chided Brodir to the youngster, “we are almost there. Now then, where was I. Oh yes, I remember. So I returned to my room in the inn and settled down for the night.”

    “However, just after midnight I was awoken with a start by the town’s warning bell clanging loudly in the distance. Rushing to the window I looked out just in time to see the bell tower get destroyed in a great fireball. Initially I had little clue as to what was happening as townsfolk raced around in the streets below my window. I only discovered the cause of this great commotion when a townsman shouted “Curse those pesky dwarves, they’ve only gone and roused the dragon from his lair.” It was as this was shouted that another fireball consumed the bridge linking the town to the shore in a fiery inferno. Quickly I ran out and sprinted down to where my boat was moored on the docks knowing that the wooden structures of the town would mean the fires would quickly spread. Having reached the docks I loaded as many people as I could upon the boat and cast off, sailing to a safe distance before turning to seeing drama unfold.

    “By this time large areas of the town were succumbing to the dragon fire, while the dragon himself circled overhead, lighting new fires in all quarters. Many people still remained trapped in the town trying to flee the flames, their cries for help audible even from our distance. There was one small company of men, however, that didn’t try to flee. Instead they stood fast and with their great bows sent volley after volley of arrows up into the night, aiming to bring down the great dragon overhead. Eventually though, the flames became too much for even those brave men, one by one fleeing to seek safety until only one remained, bravest of the brave.

    “This single man kept firing his arrows up at the dragon only to have them bounce harmlessly off his great scales, until he had but one arrow left. This arrow he laid on his bow, took aim at the dragon’s heart, drew back to his ear, steadied, and then let fly. The arrow flew true embedding itself fully into the dragon’s chest. An almighty screech was let out by the beast as it fell out of the sky, crashing though the wooden floor to land with a great hiss of steam in the lake below.

    “During the rest of that night and all the following morning I made many trips back and forth to the still burning town, recuing what few survivors there were until on last trip I found the man who had shot that fateful arrow, a true Lord of the Bow.”

    Looking around when he’d finished his tale Brodir found that each and every child had drifted off to sleep, curled up on the rugs, dreaming no doubt of dragons and dragon fire.
    Entrant 2 - LapsedPacifist
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Peasants of the Bow

    See. Stepping just so to stand astride an unseen space, this foot aside, this one straight on. Conversely to belief, like any scrap, in any scrimmage such as this, its all there in the footwork.

    Knights ashining down the valley far below, aloft our lowly place in this world, surmounting all our worth, surpassing all our praise. Mere victims in the waiting. Sons of France, of Flanders, of Vermandois, Frenchmen foes for what we are told and for truth its no more than one and all of us or each and every one of them.

    First one nocked to flimsy wood and unwetted string, teasing back the blow to come, tensing to the cheek. Death strung in all its potential waiting for the off. Quaver, quiver, quake with all that hate inherent, that fear in the scent of leather and sweat and sodden earth, for foes we dare not know. And loose!

    Release. And barb and shaft and fletching lofted to the ceaseless sky to luft and lope and pitch and plunge and lunge and fall lazily languid ever leewards to its chosen soul, all solitary amidst this showering rain of sodden death to skim and slice and skewer and staple to the sinew.

    Fallen falling men with their thankless mounts, scream of beast and man to be akin and no more nor less the pain. Distant calls of toys no nearer to our lair and no sooner than this first wave fallen than notch again and tense and raise and loose and choose the next by its fletch from the cluster by the forward foot and so to notch again. Butcher on and revel, boys, that you may never see the noble whites of these far off Frankish eyes.


    And so to win the day and the month and even now the year for all the war may yet be lost a hundred year from this standing man’s last breath, this one of many, this English peasant of the bow. Cheer on, lads, and courage up to loft this last of our ammunition, this last of our defiance. Ready?

    Two fingers, ho!


    Entrant 3 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    Top Lord of the Bow gear

    Having just finished watching that dreadful display from the Hamster as he attempted to take a Gladius and destroy a Toyota with it. I decided to try something...A little more closer to home...

    Here we have the much lethal instrument ever designed by man...In the world...

    The arrow. Designed in the pre cave man ages by men shorter then Hammond running around in Deerskins purely for the enjoyment of shooting other midgets the true prowess of the arrow was soon realized when they found out it could kill things.

    So using their small brains they took their initative one step further...A sharpened the buggers.

    Now even the dullest tool in the shed will realize that a sharp stick fired from anything will impale itself into most things with ease. Like a Aston Martin. The king of the hunting world.

    But there is one small hitch. What happens when your pointy stick isn't strong enough to pierce armour...Like a tank for instance?

    Well I have decided to investigate. Standing behind me are five targets that would have been representative of things stuck with arrows in the many many many thousands of years of use.

    We have a life sized Richard Hammond. Naturally he didn't want to stand there and be shot at, so we used one of those dummies filled with ballistic jelly. He represents the deer. Which again, due to Tony Blair and his love for small annoying woodland creatures; we can't shoot a deer.

    We have an armoured covered ballistics dummy. To represent the knight. The power of the medieval world. Naturally this what killed the bow and got us evolving our brains to grapple with gun powder.

    We have a small Peugeot 405 just because I want to shoot it with arrows.

    We have a Challenger tank from the British Army. Because they wanted to see if we could destory it with arrows.

    And finally we have the best machine...in the world. An Apache gun ship. The only helicopter we havn't beaten here on Top Lord of the Bow Gear. So without further ado here are our results.

    Richard Hammond didn't survive long. Our master Archer Ye Olde Stig planted several effortlessly into his frail...under protected body. Similarily the Armoured version was no match for Ye Olde Stig. But the Peugeot 405 was another thing.

    After a good hour of planting several arrows into the flanks of the old war house. I came up with an idea. Taking a leaf out of the Medieval book of war. I attached explosives to an arrow and set it on fire. Ye Olde Stig was soon firing it into the pierced flank of the Peugeot and without much preamble it was soon on fire...Due to the petrol tank being set on fire. So thats three for three to the mighty arrow.

    However doom was approaching our rustic approach to war. The Challenger tank prooved impervious to both rains of normal arrows and the explosive variety...But then I had another idea...What if we fired it directly into the turrent. Naturally this hasn't been tried before. So again I loaded up my flaming explosive arrow and Ye Olde Stig planted it into the turrent. While the explosion was impressive the Tank still stood. Unbested, and without a cannon.

    So with an air of apprehension we approached our final target. The Apache Gunship. Now to make this fair, we have asked it to hover at a safe distance of about 40 yards in the air. If it was grounded it would be too easy for us. Once again we fired many an arrow at the airborne Knight of the sky to no avail. The down draft was simply too powerful to penerate with arrows. Not even my idea's of shooting the arrows out of the tank worked. Even I had to admit defeat.

    So what have we learnt from today...That the arrow is still capable of being the weapon of choice for terroists. Maybe. But they'd need to learn how to shoot a bow and thats a skill that is steadfastly British. And on that bombshell we depart. Next week we attach Spikes to Toyota and see if its sharkproof as we cross the Atlantic ocean on it!
    Entrant 4 - E.K
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    Lords of the Bow

    We ran quickly, our packs chafing at our shoulders, surely the sergeant would let us rest but no he kept us running, running harder than ever before. My lungs were about to catch fire and my legs were starting to wobble. Will, my comrade next to me collapsed in tiredness but he was simply dragged back into our crude column formation. I looked ominously at the clearing up ahead, surely the sergeant would let us stop there if only for a minute to take a swig from my canteen. Finally we reached the clearing, it’s beauty captivated me. Colourful flowers, large oak trees with leaves that provide a nice canopy for the sun which was taking its toll on the company. I lay down my pack and musket, reached gratefully for my canteen and took a swig. I was about to sit down when suddenly Will screamed “Natives!!” I glanced around looking around but could see nothing. “Natives, where?” I called back.
    “In the forest” Will pointed to the oak trees. Sure enough I saw a slight movement in the mass of oak trees. The sergeant formed us into a crude line, with our bayonets fixed and the Union Jack flying high. We waited for what we were about to receive. I expected the Natives to attack like they normally did, with their bows and hatchet's. Today was no different, I heard a slight twang as hundreds of warriors released heir arrows, just like our forefathers did in Agincourt. The arrows rose and fell their black shafts singing the song of death as they rose and fell. The sky was shrouded in arrows, like a fog. It seemed like an eternity before the arrows hit but finally they did. Their stone tips drove into men's flesh, I heard a scream to the left of me and after a quick glance I noticed that blood was Gushing out of Will's chest. He made a violent heaving motion before finally laying still. I was fortunate. Only a gash across my cheek where an arrow skimmed past. I was left standing there with the company dead around me. I knew what came next, the Natives charged out of the Forest screaming with those menacing knives and hatchet’s. Ready to kill anybody who lived. These Natives were the Lords of the Bow.
    Last edited by Dance; May 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM.

  8. #28

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 107a - Under the Moonlit Skies
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    Winner - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    It was a clear and starry night, the dazzling stars reaching out with their points, lighting the sky in thousands of bright dots. Despite such a beautiful night, the stars were not enough to brighten the unhappy men. They were forced by their general to leave the comfort of their warm and safe tents, to march out and fight the enemy. And to further “brighten” their night, they were to be marching across rocky, steep hills, where breaking a leg or arm was of ease. The thousands strong army marched through the cold, desolate night. Nothing could be heard, except the dull thud of the men’s boots, and an occasional grumble or upset as someone had lost their footing. The tired and sleepy men were suddenly roused awake from their hypnotizing march, as the general barked for them to stop. To their surprise, when they looked up the hill, a row of bright torches glowed, only to be welcomed with the loud taunt of the enemy. Quickly, the men charged up their muskets and gathered in formation, getting ready to fight their enemy. The two massive forces stood, dead silent. Not a noise other than the light whistle of the wind was heard until the trumpet rang loud. To welcome the trumpets loud ring, both forces fired… A thunderous roar echoed throughout the hills as both forces fired, only to be followed up by blood-curling yells of pain and the loud echoes of the wolves; as men were wounded or killed. Such a pity, that so much blood should have been spilled, on such a glorious and beautiful night.
    Entrant 1 - matt will
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    EDIT: I'm too lazy to take my own pic so here's one from the first post:

    “Don’t you just love the smell of death in the morning?” Duke Charles wondered aloud as he exited his sparsely decorated war tent in full parade armour followed by his war ‘advisors’. They hurriedly nodded in agreement but when the duke turned away they scrunched their noses in disgust at the sickening stench that strangled and gagged them with its strength. The group of aides managed to hide their true expressions when the Duke again looked back. Well… nearly all of them. One unfortunate soul couldn’t stop himself from throwing up.
    “Guards!” The Duke called “This man apparently does not have the stomach to be a soldier.” The six-foot muscular elite of Charles, Duke of Caen’s army were on the unlucky man in seconds. They were never far away. “Kill him.”
    And with that the Duke added more blood to his already scarlet-liquid dripping hands. None of the Duke’s army even batted an eyelid at his latest murder as the body was chucked onto one of the body piles that had already been assembled from the dead of the night before. Despite the soldiers of the Duke having worked feverishly for hours, there were many hundreds of lifeless corpses still left out on the field.

    After a few minutes of following their commander it dawned on the Aides that he was marching with a purpose and that they weren’t simply out for an early morning stroll through the war camp.
    “Harold! I have a job for you.” After the Duke screamed his name, the Aide had to strain to hear what Charles’ command was. “There is a man in the tent who wants to write down an account of our glorious victory over our despicable French foes last night,” Harold was smart enough to realise that the Duke wanted him to recount the battle, if you could call it that, as a heroic defeat of an evil enemy. Even if this was far from the truth. He entered the tiny tent that they had stopped outside.

    Inside, the tent was mostly barren and empty with only a small, ragged, straw-filled bed and an even smaller writing desk with a quill and an ink pot on top. Behind it was seated a thin, tall, short haired man in a brown robe. He was obviously a monk but he was younger than any monk Harold had ever seen and he had seen a lot of monks in his time and not always in the most holy of circumstances.
    “Hello. You must be Harold, Friar Antoine, at your service.” The monk spoke in surprisingly fluent, but heavily accented English. “I believe that your noble lord has tasked me with writing an account of the... battle that was fought here late last night.”
    Friar Antoine spat out the word battle after pausing for several seconds, seemingly deciding what word was most appropriate. Harold though he chose correctly; you could never be sure if one of the Duke’s spies was listening.
    “You are correct.” Harold confirmed. He then made the decision that would cost him his life. “...but it was not a battle that was fought last night. It was a massacre ordered by the evil that is the Duke Charles.”
    The monk looked surprised at this and began to fidget nervously as if he sensed something bad was going to happen.
    “Are you sure it is wise to say such things about the infamous Duke Charles of Caen?”
    “Yes.” Harold nodded. “Now write down everything that I say and run as soon as I finish it. Get as far away from here as possible and don’t ever come near Caen or the Duke again. Are you ready?”
    “I am” The monk nodded.
    “Ok. Well, about a week ago our cavalry came across the nearby village and demanded that they handed over all of their food. They refused and chased the cavalry out of the village with pitchforks and stones.” Seeing the look on the Friar’s face, Harold explained how it was only a cavalry patrol and so there were only handful of horsemen there and so they had no chance.
    “And if you know anything about the Duke then you know how he would have reacted to this. He was furious and demanded that we march strait there and avenge this insult. Well, we tried and failed to persuade him otherwise. We arrived yesterday just before nightfall and found that the villagers had prepared defences and armed themselves.
    The Duke’s soldiers marched in and... and...” Harold broke down in tears before he could finish but it was obvious to Antoine what had happened.

    It took Harold a while to get himself under control, but when he did he drew his sword, demanded that Antoine flee and marched forcefully out of the tent. W

    When the Duke saw him, he stared in surprise but before Harold could get close enough to do what needed to be done, the Charles’ guards were on him. It wasn’t even a contest but the distraction was enough for Antoine to slip away unnoticed. The last he saw of Harold was his cold, lifeless corpse being hurled onto one of the body piles. Just another corpse in sea of thousands of others. Some men. Many women. Many more children.

    A day later Antoine was in Paris, a week later Lyon, a month later Marseille. The Duke never caught him and he lived out the rest of his life in a monastery in Italy. He never forgot Harold and published the story but few people ever read it, fewer still cared.

    And the Duke?
    Well he was poisoned a few years later by his own son who then continued the war against France but he was never as cruel as his father had been.
    Entrant 2 - Darkan
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    This place was strange and now, when the night had fully come in its right, it seemed even more so than during the day.
    Nothing moved, not even the birds, it almost seemed as if not even the river flowed anymore.

    The man sat beneath a tree and contemplated his surroundings as if looking upon a painting. He was tired, hungry and worst of all, he was wounded.
    His armor once polished and gleaming in the sun lay on the ground beside him, dented, filthy and pierced by arrows. His sword was still in his hand and he took a moment to admire it.
    It had been given to him by his father before he left for battle…it was a good sword, a sword that had served his father and grandfather well…a sword that had served him well.
    He remembered his grandfather; he remembered how he used to tell him stories of glorious battles, of honor, tales of distant lands and heroic deeds.
    His grandfather always knew how to tell a tale and often did so sitting by the fire, with his nephew beside him. He knew then, as a child that he too would one day take part in such battles,
    that he too would be looked upon with admiration, just as he had looked upon his grandfather. Nothing but childish dreams, for he had learnt that war was nothing like in the tales,
    it was neither glorious nor heroic and it only brought pain and suffering.

    Only now did he see the giant moon. He didn’t know if it was indeed so or if he was just imagining it, he hadn’t noticed it before.
    Indeed, who has time to gaze upon the moon when all you are shown and taught is to run around, aimless, to go to war when others tell you,
    to fight and die for them or even worse, to live for them…who has time to gaze upon the moon?

    He felt cold and he had no means to make a fire let alone the strength to do so. His wounds hurt, his mind wandered off to distant times, better times…
    He remembered the first time he had laid eyes upon his wife, the first time he held her in his arms and he felt the taste of her lips, the warmth of her embrace…
    He remembered the birth of his son, the fear he felt as he first held him, afraid not to let go, afraid that his rugged, battered hands would hurt the fragile life he held…
    He remembered it all, he felt it all.
    I will see them once more before I pass from this world, the man thought, but first I will rest a while. He closed his eyes, smiling, feeling a strange warmth that came over him.

    A slight breeze started to blow as if the night started to breathe, suddenly coming to life or maybe it was just a soul that left a tired and broken body in search of something else.
    Entrant 3 - wowbanger
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    Under Moonlit Skies


    I could only watch on in horror as the flames destroyed the many great ships moored in the harbour. Thick, dark smoke obscuring the near full moon above, its soft light replaced by the harsh red glow of the fiery inferno. The same smoke that filled my nostrils with the smell of burning and nearly threatened to choke me.

    Clinging for my life upon a fallen mast, there was nothing I could do to help the stricken ships as I watched their crewmen fight the raging fires. Some ships, not yet alight, attempted to cut the mooring lines and move away in an attempt to escape to inferno that engulfed the harbour.

    I could just about hear the cries for help above the roaring of the flames. Unfortunate sailors struggled to keep their heads above the water as their arms flailed and splashed in the flame red sea, seeking to attract the attention of the lone rowing boat out looking for survivors or find a piece of wreckage to cling onto, as I had been lucky enough to manage.

    How had such a catastrophe happened? What had happened to cause the scene before me on such a calm, clear and bright moonlit night? Why was the Grand Fleet burning under moonlit skies? These answers I do not know as I cling for my life amongst the wreckage of the burning fleet.
    Entrant 4 - Zigus Maximus
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    „U chornomu nebi , nashykh soldativ lezhatʹ,
    Pokrytyy̆ kozak slavy , vysusheni v krovi,
    Povstannya proty tyrana,
    Korolʹ batʹka nashoho,
    nasha maty proy̆shla ”


    They sang until their lungs gave out, until they could not draw any more air. They sang for their children, for their and their descendant’s future. They sang for the Cossack glory; that faithful spring of 1648.
    Khmelnitsky, the Zaporozhian Hetman gathered his hordes 20 miles of Vohdy. The sun shined, raining down faith and confidence upon his men. Fathers and sons, all gathered there together as one, as a united nation… as free Ukraine. Fame hungry Cossacks, peasants, slaves to the commonwealth, beggars and lepers – everyone who lived by the rapids of Dnieper River and shared the Zaporozhian blood joined the rebellion that was to divide the nations so different, yet so similar in one blood stained civil war. And this is where the war was to begin.

    Khmelnitsky’s tent was downhill, confronting the Polish fortifications. His army counting 7,000 men, although poorly equipped and unorganised, it outnumbered the troops of the commonwealth by far. To an untrained eye, the mere 2000 men the Poles were left with after the traitors turned their backs and joined the enemy seemed no match for the Cossack horde. But Lachy had something that Khmelnitsky did not. First of all, they had the hill and a primitive, quickly scrapped wall. This position was enough to tire the enemy out. Secondly, they had cannons. King’s battery was brought from Zawiez Castle that bloomed 10 miles to the south. But those things did not bother Khmelnitsky or his men. Strategic and technological advantage meant nothing to them. The real source of fear, the true terror that visited his troops was the sight of Polish Winged Hussars; the elite cavalry renowned in entire Middle and Eastern Europe. The ottomans and Tatars knew their power, and a few of the rebellious Cossacks had a privilege to fight amongst those winged gods of battle.

    Jaguar skins, powerful, specially bred and trained horses, armour so thick bullets did not matter, their lances so light, yet 6 meters in length. Their wings shining in the sun made them seem like angels from the biblical texts. But every Cossack knew, those men were devils on the battlefield.

    Khmelnitsky looked out of his tent. His men scattered around the hill, facing the Poles, were somehow enjoying themselves. They felt free and equal; they felt their glory and pride reappear in their blood. Numerous lutes and other instruments carried music all around the camp. Men sharpened their swords and polished the pistols. Some duelled before the battle to prepare themselves for the oncoming assault. Smile appeared on Hetman’s face. He felt pride and glory tremble in his veins as he watched his men so eager for battle, so brave under his command. He felt God was on his side, and it seemed that he was right.

    Night passed and the Polish hussars gathered down of the hill, closer to the Cossack camp. 400 men, 400 horses; enough to trample down an army. The only thing that divided the two armies was a small stream and a further distance of an arrow – enough to prepare a full charge. The Cossacks did not hesitate. Their army moved forward and prepared for the thrust. The Commonwealth banner was raised, and horses trotted towards the stream. Slowly, they took speed. Trot turned in to a fast walk; fast walk, into a run and the run turned into a charge.

    ‘Muskets forward!’ shouted Dmytro, one of the Ukrainian nobles who was granted command. The men moved forward, and a bunch of firearms rose out of the line. As hussars got closer Dmytro tried to control the morale of his men “Hold! Hold!” he said as they were getting closer. When they were no longer than 40 meters away, an order to fire was given. Smoke and sparks flung into the air and a few horses stumbled from the fired bullets. Some riders were also hit, but it was only unlucky few that couldn’t carry on and fell off their steeds. “Spears forward!” Dmytro shouted again and the men stuck out their weapons that were to impale the incoming horses, or at least stop them from charging with full strength.

    Before any damage to the poles was caused, long lances already shattered the Cossack ranks. Those hit, were hurled back dragging their comrades with them. Four spears were aimed at one of the horses. It was getting closer and closer, but the Cossacks held firmly. The steed ran into the spikes, but within seconds they all shattered against its peytral*. As the Poles cut through the enemy, the Zaporozhian formation shattered. Men dropped their weapons, forgetting their pride and ran back towards the camp. Courage was no more. The infantry was being pursued and cut down for another few meters before they could get away to safety. Remaining men stationed in the camp couldn’t do anything at all to help their comrades. Cavalry charge in this chaos would be a suicide, mainly due to the Commonwealth’s artillery. Inaccurate muskets would only kill their own men. Hetman could do nothing but wait.

    As soon as the survivors got back to the camp, the hussars retreated leaving a trail of blood and anguish behind them. Morale were low. The defence failed. With his other officers the Hetman estimated he lost at least a hundred men. Ten hussar bodies were visible amongst his own; two still shrugging.

    The horsemen disappeared behind the hill where defences stood firmly. Poles cheered the names of their gods of war. Sun hid behind the clouds, and a first drop of rain fell onto the ground. It was going to be a mourning night for the Cossacks. One they would remember for the rest of this battle, rest of this campaign.

    It was after midnight, and a monsoon covered the peninsula. The gunpowder was getting wet, troops sick of the rain and mud. Khmelnitsky walked around the camp with his right hand, Dmytro who managed to get away from the charge.

    “I failed you hetman” he said quietly, stroking his long moustache.

    “You did not my friend” Khmelnitsky answered in a serious tone, avoiding direct contact with his comrade’s yes. “Lachy think they won already, but look around. What do you see?” he asked pointing his towards the enemy fortifications.

    “Dogs! I see dogs and scum!” spat Dmytro and his face turned red instantly

    “Dogs and scum” repeated Khmelnitsky “Dogs and scum can be dealt with; but what about the hussars?” he asked gently. Silence followed and the Cossack looked puzzled. He looked around, but couldn’t understand what his hetman had in mind. A few moments later however, a huge grin appeared on his face. He turned to Khmelnitsky with one quick swift, and laughed to the moonlit skies.

    Morning rose and the black clouds continued to lurk in the sky, seemingly dissatisfied with the filth they left over the night before. Hussars stood ready, prepared for another charge. Tired, without sleep they stood their ground, ready to attack whenever the banner was raised. Cossacks responded, this time their army moved much closer. Dmytro positioned his men around 30 meters from the muddy stream.

    “Muskets! Forward!” he shouted and so his men ensured their weapons were reloaded and ready to fire as soon as the hussars charged. Banner was raised, and the Polish captain hurled his sabre forward. The cavalry raced downhill, ready to break the brave Cossack formation once again. The trembling sound of hooves shook the ground under the Cossack lines. Banner waved in the air and lances were put forward. They Poles were ready to strike.

    The captain was leading the charge. His horse fell into the stream which now was a river of mud. One thing the poles have not foreseen. Mounts sank chest deep into the death trap, throwing off the riders who ended up on the floor. The weight of the wings and the armour threw them back down if any tried to get up.

    “Fire and charge brothers! Charge who wants the Cossack glory!” Dmytro shouted and bullets whistled in the air. The Zaporozhian army charged towards the shattered hussars. Poles responded instantly with a barrage of artillery fire, but their hearts, just like their army was broken. They fled; all they could’ve done.

    Khmelnitsky glanced over the captured enemy cannons and prisoners. Tonight, they would be sold to the great Khan where a fate of slaves, or worse, awaited them. Tonight, we sing again, just like when we gathered together. We sign for victory. We sign under moonlit skies.

    Entrant 5 - Boustrophedon
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    Night of the roaring guns

    Heat and debris. I cannot recall much from that night on the endless waters of the Great Blue, when the Dutch caught us in open sea, but I vividly remember the intense heat that I and my shipmates felt on our faces when the hull of our flagship collapsed under the explosions raging within. The ship burst apart with tremendous force and even though some managed to abandon ship before this nightmare unfolded, most of the deckmates and all of the officers were swept into the freezing cold sea by the furious flames. A black hole then. How long had I been in the water before I finally gulped for air and swam with all my strength to resurface? I cannot remember but the numbing cold of the water urged me to reach dry space and the wreckage around me was too small to carry my body. I found a section of the foredeck and climbed aboard, holding on with grim determination. The flagship was gone, along with the admiral and most of the crew whose dead bodies occasionally drifted by with their faces lying in the water. I was safe and unharmed but around me the guns were still roaring and with every loud crack I wondered which of our ships had been breached. Why are you still fighting? Hasn't there been enough death already?! I shouted at the top of my lungs into the darkness. A thundering salvo sounded from somewhere in the deep night and I hoped my friends would survive the night. When morning came the wreckage was still burning with fierce resistance to the rain that had begun to pour down on the survivors. Finally after a full day allies arrived to salvage what they could and collect the wounded as well as the dead. I found some friends of mine on the ship that rescued me and their faces told me more than words ever could. Those who witnessed that night either went to sea as soon as they recovered or never set foot on a ship again. I have yet to decide if I can sail the open seas again but one thing I am certain of: I've seen enough war and horror for a lifetime.


    TotW 108a - Thunder in Paradise

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    Winner - Aodh Mor
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    Rain harassed my eyes, dripping from the long hairs that hung across age crevasses down through my thin, worried eyebrows. An angry crowd were jostling by, bristling with the accutrements of upheavel. They were probably shouting, I couldn't see in the darkness, and the blaring in my earphones drowned out all sound. Reality was strangely caged inside an insidious wall of music. The world didn't seem to be touching my body, seen through this musical windowpane.My arms wrestled with four feet of leather, as the heavy coat was gripped and dragged about by the revolving wind. This impromptu sail dragged my feet around behind it, turning my determined march into a drunken stumble. The long, square street stretched tentatively into the pulsating heart of this metropolis.

    A great, bright flash erupted out of the storming darkness above. Battering my vision with a sickly, painful white light. The stark, cold buildings seared their sad faces onto my retinae. I could hear the walls weeping in the music, leading me to wonder which had come first, the depression in my eyes or my ears. To test, I changed the song.


    It was absurd. A whispy, high male voice called out "Somewhere, over the rainbow" as the rain fell in pins of darkness, completely obstructing vision. The further on the song went, though, the more the guitar just repeated again, again, again, again and again, the more the sound seemed to suit the city. The sadness of those buildings was crawling through those wires into the sound, I could see the music weeping in the walls. The darkness made a parody of the lyrics, the colours of the rainbow a meltdown of grey, the broken shard of forgotten windows a dejected replacement for blue.


    The light down the end began to stretch and take shape, focusing even through the droplets that covered my eyes. People began to appear out of the dark, and more could be seen by the absence of light they blocked. A cacophony was welling up, assailing even the roaring music plugged directly into my head. A shapeless mass of turbulence, sound from a number that vast reverts back to the sound of one. A great host of angry sheep, milling and waving flags, pictures, pickets and effigy torches and bathed their faces in a yellow light, making them seem like young gods parading their victory of titans, instating a new order. Flames reflected in eyes that bounced a fire back from deeper within.


    Doctors shout and scream beside factory workers, police with their arms around teachers - they had created this furious utopia, bringing even governments crashing down around them. An anarchic paradise was forged in torrential downpour - how much worse of an omen can you imagine?

    I stood away on my own, my dejected heart calling out to those around me, but too sceptical to reach out physically or intellectually. I just stood their wistfully, alone. This great horde splayed out in front of me, framed by the husks of collapsing building, burning against he water, mocking nature. Another great flash froze the scene, showing every facet of the chaos in that diseased illumination. I was fighting their emotions, erecting walls around myself.

    Around us six centuries were burning, destroyed by only a few hours and gasoline. The wondrous power of fire. They celebrated this, apparently the end of society as we know. Timocratic Democracy was gone, the loudspeaker prophets had been declaring all day, and into the dark of night they still shouted.This was not Tienanmen square, yet it would change nothing as time passed.

    Tomorrow. Tommorow these people would still have families to feed, tomorrow they would still need to cook food - tomorrow someone would need to give them that food, tomorrow those atoms would need careful tending. I stood there, alone in my pessimism, as reality came hurtling through the dark.
    Dreams can never survive Tomorrow.
    Entrant 1 - Incesticide
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    In those days, the Yuan dynasty was strong. It is said that their rule stretched the great lands that lie beyond the Western coasts. The tongue they speak there is not like any spoken in our islands, and they are a savage people, pale-skinned, black-haired, and fierce, living on the hoof, liking the sight of blood and the smell of burning towns.

    Earlier in the year they had attacked the islands of Tsushima and Iki, raiding in great force in a fleet of black-sailed junks. News of this slowly winded south to Fukue-jima, but the Lords of Nagasaki were busy with their piracy and paid small heed to the woes of other lands. Then Hirado fell to the Yuan and was looted and laid waste, its people taken as slaves, so that even now it is an isle of ruins. Thenceforth, the fleet headed North, with intent to land in the bay of Hakata, not far from Dazaifu, where dwell the lords of Kyūshū.

    Alas, in lust of conquest a small host of the Yuan sailed next to the five islands, coming in a fleet of thirty great junks to Fukue-jima. They fought through the town of Gotō, took it, burned it; leaving their ships under guard at the mouth of the bay they went up the vale wrecking and looting, slaughtering cattle and men. As they went they split into bands, and each of these bands plundered where it chose.

    Fugitives, some bearing horrific wounds, some dragging with them the dead and the dying, brought warning to the villages of the heights. Soon the people of the highlands saw smoke darken the eastern sky, and that night those who looked down on the plains below saw them covered in a haze, red-streaked with fires where fields ready for harvest had been set ablaze, and orchards burned, the fruit roasting on the blazing boughs, and urns and farmhouses smouldered in ruin. Some of the villagers fled up the ravines and hid in the forests, and some made ready to fight for their lives, and some did neither but stood about lamenting.

    With sunrise came a thick blanket of white fog, as on many autumn mornings in the heights of the island. Those who had remained, stood waiting among their huts and houses with their hunting bows and new-forged spears, not knowing whether the Yuan might be far-off or very near, all silent, all peering into the fog that hid shapes and distances and dangers from their eyes.

    The fog was thinning now under the heat of the sun that shone bare above on the peak. As the mists moved and parted in great drifts and smoky wisps, they heard the thundering of hooves.
    Entrant 2 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
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    Ite. be prepared for more kitten tales of doom...


    Reserved



    Artist: Unknown-N/A title: Doomsday.....

    The Three Little Wooly-Mamoths...


    **Pardon me If the story veers off track a little, because, we are under direct tornado threat as I write this....**

    Born ad mist the death-throws of winter they were, My three little Mammoths, would they struggle and fight to survive? At birth, I was so scared that thy would frz to death, now I far that without miraculous change & adaptation that thy shall b boiled aliv... Natur is wondrous and Buatiful som tims, but, will my littl Mammoths chang uick nough to surviv....


    Shramful Dispray....
    Entrant 3 - Eazyrider
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    This is a prologue/ sonnet (14 lines, ten syllables each with a rhyming scheme) for Conn Iggulden's book: Empire of Silver; which goes over the period in which the Mongol empire expanded under Ogedai Khan's rule and collapsed upon his death.


    Upon his death, his legacy endures,

    The throne of the nation beckons to three,

    Forced by pride and blood, they feud for this lure,

    Upon prize, they bind the world to its knee,

    As, the holder of Karakorum reigns,

    The west shall feel the wrath of the Mongols,

    As their arrows inflict relentless pains,

    From Chinese shores to European shoals,

    They cut bloody path through the unwary,

    Heartless and barbaric they emit dread,

    Yet, their presence remains momentary,

    They move, hungrily, leaving trails of dead,

    Oh, but when they seem nigh unstoppable,

    The Khan’s collapse, shall ignite ancient quarrel,

    And no Mongol will rest on his laurels.


    Entrant 4 - wowbanger
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    The Valley of Death
    Six hundred brave men gave a long loud cheer,
    As on that day so bright and clear,
    The sergeants took a collective breath,
    'Forward the light brigade,
    Charge for the guns' they said,
    Though they knew not how poorly led,
    As in they rode to the valley of death.


    All around the horses fell,
    As through they rode the Gates of Hell,
    Troubled not by fear or dread,
    Onward rode the brave six hundred,
    All around the cannon thundered,
    Just because someone had blundered,
    Many brave men lay amongst the dead.


    Finally they reached the Russian guns,
    And those valiant English sons,
    Began to swing, and slash, and hack,
    In amongst the powder smoke,
    Gunners reeling from the sabre stroke,
    Right through the line they broke,
    Before they turned to return back.

    At last those lucky few,
    Scarce more than one in two,
    Had chance to catch their shortened breath,
    Remembering their fallen friends,
    Who had all met untimely ends,
    Taking vows to make amends,
    For those who lay in the Valley of Death.


    Shower these men with honour and glory,
    Forever remember their heroic story,
    Those who refused to be afraid,
    As they rode through the Valley of Hell,
    Charging through the shot and shell,
    As all around their comrades fell,
    Honour the Light Brigade.

    Entrant 5 - E.K
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    Will’s regiment, the 74th is placed in the centre of the allied line, rain was falling steadily and the thunder was creating a cacaphony of sound the hurt Will's ears. He can see no further than ten yards in front of him. The smoke of the muskets mingled with the fog to make a blanket that covers the battlefield, the pungent smell of gunpowder tickled his nostrils as the skirmishers began to open fire on the incoming French columns, encompassing the eagles which are a personal gift from Napoleon himself. Will hefts his musket up to his shoulder and pulls the trigger which rewards him with a fizz but nothing else. It was a misfire. Quickly he reloads, trying to remember the drill his sergeant has taught him back at his barracks in Liverpool. For the second time he lifts his musket and this time it fires. The smoke from the musket blinds him for a few minutes preventing him from seeing the result of his shot.

    The column is being torn to pieces by the regular fire kept up by the redcoats. The column endures this punishment, however, and crashes violently into the 74th foot. Will fixes his bayonet driving it into the belly of a French officer and as he pulls his musket out he realises the bayonet has lodged in the officer’s body. He uses the musket as a club instead watching the officer writhe in pain. This is not the glorious displays of musketry he thought it would be. it is a swirling chaos with men scratching, kicking, stabbing, punching and dying. Matt moves nimbly aside to dodge a kick from a burly French sergeant but is instead hit from behind with a vicious swing of a musket. He lies on the ground, scrambling to get to his feet but is knocked down again and then stabbed with a bayonet.
    Will rubs his eyes trying to clear the fog that is getting darker until he sees nothing but death’s embrace.


    TotW 109a - The Heart of Darkness
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    Winner - Skantarios
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    A Heart of Darkness

    “Sir, what shall we do with the prisoners?”

    This was a question I knew was coming; the final act in our little play of battle:
    What shall we do with the prisoners?

    I look upon the now-helpless prisoners. We’ve taken several hundred of them, maybe even a thousand, though none of us can be bothered to make an accurate count. For all their number, they don’t cut a very impressive picture now that they are disarmed and kneeling on the ground. They’re nothing but boys, really. In all those faces, I see none older than 17 or 18. A few look as young as 12. All have the look of terror about them. Some even squat in the pools of piss or vomit they’ve made in anticipation of what comes next.


    They don’t even wear a proper uniform. They are clothed in the same rags as when they were lifted from their farms or the streets of the city by the press gangs. Is this what our “glorious and righteous” war has come to? Is this the best that the Enemy can throw against us?


    What shall we do with the prisoners?


    What can we do? If I were to release them, they would just come back again. Maybe in the next battle, they would be luckier. Maybe next time, this lot would be the difference between us and victory. Maybe next time, they would kill more of my men, and how would I come to account for that?


    Ransom them? Another cruel joke. If by some miracle the Enemy would pay, they would never agree to terms that would preclude these boys from fighting again. If the Enemy did agree, they would just break their word and send them right back to war. They have no honor but, then again, neither do we. I would do the same thing and they know it.

    What shall we do with the prisoners?


    This campaign had been long and our losses great. Still, in the grand scheme of our endless war with the Enemy, it is but one minor chapter. How long ago it had started, even I could not say and I was an old man – nearly 40 now. Though we had not always been fighting, I could no longer remember a time when we were not at war. My father, when he was still alive, told me that it was the Enemy who struck the first blow. But did that even matter anymore? The old men who had started the war were long dead. Their reasons dead with them. Their only legacy was this war and all that came with it.


    The why of it all no longer mattered. Now, all that mattered was winning.


    What shall we do with the prisoners?


    Both sides have fought to exhaustion. We go on now because there is simply nothing else for us to do. Not a man amongst us knows any other trade but death. Not a man remembers the gentle caress of a woman or the laughter of children. Our ears only know the screams of agony or the cries of pain; our hands only the feel of cold steel or the sticky warmth of blood. That is what this war has done to us. That is what we are.

    Tens of thousands killed on both sides. Numbers far beyond counting. With all that death, is it any wonder that we have become monsters in our own right? There have been terrible atrocities committed by both sides as we each plumb the depths of depravity in the hope it will give us the edge to final victory. The sad fact of the matter is: it hasn’t. For all the things we’ve done and all that we’ve suffered, the outcome is as uncertain as ever. The only sure thing is that none of us will see Heaven. Our souls were sacrificed long ago to the mistress of Victory.

    With all those thousands of dead, did it matter one bit if I added a few hundred more to the tally?


    What shall we do with the prisoners?

    My mother, before she was raped and killed by soldiers of the Enemy, once said that when you did not know what to do, search inside your heart for the answer. Well, I have looked into my heart and all I found was hate for the Enemy. I have piled upon these men all the loathing and disgust I feel for their entire, wretched country and what they've done in service to it and what they've forced me to do in service to mine.


    What shall we do with the prisoners?

    I know the answer. It is the same as it has always been.


    “Kill them. Kill them all.”


    My men simply nod in agreement and move off with grim determination to see to this final deed of the day.


    As the screams of the dying prisoners echo in my ears, I look inside my heart once more and find…nothing.


    Nothing but darkness.

    Entrant 1 - Russian Gondor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    It was a city of stone, built into the hard granite rock of the mountain. It stood there, a proud bastion of the legacy of the Gondorians. For thousands of years, it prospered… and on one corner, there laid a small white seed. Noticed by no one, a small sprout, barely the size of a needle, had begun to grow from the ground. Now, Gondor’s legacy had been long gone; the city had been destroyed by the murderous hordes of Sauron. Despite the thousands of feet that had crossed the path, no one had noticed the small missing stone in the road, with a small sprout etching out of it. Whether orc or human, it was passed by without a care. It survived, as the city had burnt… now, ten thousand years later, the One Ring had been destroyed, and slowly, the remnants of the human population began to sail back to Middle Earth with the elves. And as they entered the ruined city, they saw this white tree, in its full fledged glory, shining like a bastion of light, echoing the souls of the many dead. This tree serves as an example to many, even if not noticed, or no matter how many dire times pass, you should continue to prosper, and live your life at its fullest.
    Entrant 2 - Incesticide
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Heart of Darkness


    A dark wind blows and we walk through the desolate alleyways, descending into a blind world, past decaying cars and cathedrals. Cloaked by the smothering darkness and an endless downpour, our footsteps echo along the dank pavements and the grotesque heads of the damned turn to meet the sound, their eyes long since bereft of any light. They move eerily through a grief-wracked city on all fours, picking through streets strewn with the rubble of buildings that have long since tumbled in on themselves. Many of them lie somberly, pathetically, too sullen in their hatred, as water drips down the ravines of their pale, crumbling skin. The raindrops harass them, pelting them as if to taunt them to rise from a drunken stupor moulded by a thousand centuries of torment.

    We stumble our way across the debris, the flagstones slippery with mist. The streets, which ought to be opening out into a broader highway, instead have been getting narrower, more broken, cornering tighter and tighter until all at once, much too soon, we are faced by a vast and dark jungle of twisted steel and crumbling masonry. We are beset on all sides by sightless eyes that turn to look at us in reproach, as if we have stumbled upon harpies on a midnight raid. It is a judgment from which there is no appeal. Above us, girders old as an iron queen, and glass somewhere far above that would let the light of day through. But the night here is endless. We thread softly in fear of the way the glass may fall. Coming down in total blackout, without one glint of light, there would only be the sound of a great invisible crashing.

    When the wailing begins, it stirs the air with a rising lament of moans and echoes. The mourning of wretched souls with no hope of death, trapped in the bowels of their own perdition. Mercy and justice has forsaken them. In their misery, they remember happier times and they scream.
    Entrant 3 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Kiss
    The air is ice, it freezes the breath in your lungs just as you gasp for it. You take a breath, but find nothing, all the air is frozen. All breath comes in quick gasps. That kind of cold frosts metal into an adhesive state. Moisture freezes to it instantly. The Sun can't defeat this cold, not here. Here the Sun is far away, and you can't ever get enough warmth from it. You can find it, reach for it, but you will never be fulfilled by it. The Sun is no help. The wind is a truck. You step outside, and it hits you full on, takes your strength away. Your clothes, your thick layers, do nothing. You pull everything closer, to no avail. The inside of your shirt is as cold as the air. It provides no warmth.

    Warmth is precious. Inside you may find it. But outside, there is nothing to protect you. You can't last out there. Excursions are measured in single digit numbers. Any longer, you go numb, lose fingers, toes. Too long and you'll collapse. If you stay long enough you may find warmth, just before the end. But it's false, a lie of the mind and body. There is no healing power, no life in that warmth. It is a kiss on the cheek from death. A trick.

    It used to be warmer. Not much. Enough. You could go outside. Not just minor excursions for supplies. Really go outside, stay outside. Not anymore. Now you stay inside, waiting for the Storm to die down, for the Sun to come out so you can go and get enough supplies to go and wait again. Sometimes someone gets tired of waiting, or runs out of supplies. They go out in the Storm. Never see them again. Well, you do. But they're not really there. Blues, whites, purples replace the reds, tans, pinks. A shell of a person, devoid of life and health.

    I think about these things often. A lot of time to think during the Storm. A lot of time to sit and think and wonder. I think about the Storm, think about people, think about her. I was married once. But the waiting takes it's toll. She walked out into the Storm. I tried to follow her. I was weak, I abandoned her. The waiting takes it's toll.

    The bell rings. The Storm is gone, for now. I put on my under clothes, the middle layer of padding, the wind breaker. Hats, mask, goggles. Socks, boots, gloves. I open the door. The wind hits me, hard. My legs are used to it, they resist on instinct. I walk out, close the door. Look around. Nothing nearby. I'll have to scavenge further out. I head towards a hill, over which I often find supplies in abundance. Cresting it I find nothing. As I head down the slope the studs on my boots give out. I tumble down, 30, 40, 50 feet. I hit the snow below with a soft thud. I wipe the goggle with my glove, trying to gain my bearings. There's no supplies here. I press further. As I come to the Canyon, a sharp glint catches my eye. I follow it, and reaching it find a piece of metal, protruding out from the ground. I dig around it, feeling for an end with which to pry it out. Not finding anything, I dig deeper.

    Suddenly my alarm goes off. I look up. The Storm is approaching. I pull on the metal with all my strength, hoping to get anything. A fist sized chunk breaks off. It will have to do. I turn towards my base and begin moving towards it. I go as fast as I can, but running is impossible. The Storm is getting nearer. I shed my top layer of clothing, hoping to shed some pounds, gain some speed. It's not good enough. I'm only just past the hill. When I reach flat ground, I can see the top of my base, it's low shape merely an outline against the snow. I attempt to run. I trip. I struggle to get up, but my shoe is caught. I reach down to pry it free. Every movement is wasting time. I push myself to my feet and keep moving Almost there. I feel the Storm coming, the raw power at my back. My lungs are on fire, but I ignore that. I reach the base as the Storm hits. I struggle to see, struggle to get my hand on the door, to get inside. I finally get it open a crack, force myself through. I collapse, panting. As I lay on the floor I pull my clothes off, trying to cool down. If I weren't dying I might find it funny that I wish it were cooler. Eventually I'm free. I'm still holding the metal in my left hand. I look at it. Copper. Non-ferromagnetic. Useless. I don't have enough supplies to last until the Storm subsides.

    I'm bundled in everything I own. The Storm is fierce, I feel it tearing at my very being. I force myself onward. I need supplies, iron, cobalt, nickel... Something to hold the warmth. I reach the hill. I can't feel my fingers or toes. I start down the hill, but my legs give out. I roll down its length and stop in the same snow drift that held me before. It cradles me. I gaze out at the Storm, its gray mass, formless and eternal. Slowly it shifts to black. Then, suddenly, I feel warmth. Its kiss is beautiful.
    Entrant 4 - Murphy25
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Everyone always thought God was the one who created nature. They also thought that he was the one that was keeping it intact. This couldn´t be any more wrong. Deep in a forest of which the location is unknown lies the most beautiful tree you have ever seen. But it is not just a tree. It is Nature´s Keeper. Having lived since the very beginning of the earth it knows everything the world has to offer. It was the first thing that ever rose from this planet. But since all mankind seem to do is destroy the trees and the very rest of nature, his soul has turned black. He now only feels hatred and wants vengeance. He swore to destroy the entire mankind and leave none alive, just like they are doing to them. But he and the rest of his children aren´t in a position to do men any harm. They can never match up to their axes and fire. So until they find a way to stop the demolition of men against nature, he just has to remain secret and in the forest where he is now, hoping that they will never find him. Nevertheless, because of all this pain, inside him now is…
    A Heart of Darkness.
    Entrant 5 - Aodh Mor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Car sat under a pool of light, the orange bouncing against its polished black. This car had a miserable face, a large tinted windscreen with water running down it like the large bruised eyes of a depressive. The front grill curving downwards set into a deep frown. It loomed out across the empty asphalt, insulting, beckoning and connecting. It seemed lonely, nothing around it but the bare night, waiting, waiting, waiting.


    Several hundred miles away, a parcel was torn open, waiting, waiting inside was a set of paint brushes and canvas. For Mira, it might have actually been the most surprising part of this strange little package – if it wasn't for the handwriting on the envelope that contained it. You see, painting had been one of those adolescent habits that you just grow out of. Everyone knows it's unhealthy for a grown woman to spend time alone in her room, it was so weird there were even jokes about it! How many emo's does it take to change a light bulb?
    One, to sit in the dark and write a poem about it!
    For her, it had seemed a mark of success, to have a family, a house, workfriends et cetera and not need to be alone. To spend time alone was like a defeat, it was to admit the world had beaten you. She didn't need to be alone, of course she didn't... She was normal! It's what weirdoes did, and she wasn't a weirdo, not her. She was normal. Normal. Completely and Utterly Normal.


    The Car seemed to be brightening up as he neared it, the flick of a finger across the remote leading to a burst of light in its eyes and a brief exclamation of joy. A chirpy beep of contentment. The car sighed as the door opened and fresh air rushed in to replace the day old stale leftovers. The old leather creaked as he sat in it, the folds and scars across the surface nestling into his back and stroking the back of his neck as he lowered his bulging waste onto them. The door slammed closed with a hiss and there he sat, alone. Slowly, he started building up the courage to glance in the mirror overhead. He tried to look into a mirror once a day, though the challenge of facing his own ugliness sometimes won over. He could feel his eyes retreating even as they turned towards the mirror, darting for glances out the one-way mirrors. Regardless, even in the glass, there it was – the high forehead, like a waterfall wearing backwards into the plateau above it, removing a layer hair each time it advanced forward. At least if you say it to your self, it's not receding, it's being conquered. Paradoxically, not even a accusation of grey spoilt his blonde main, that fell back to his shoulders. His face also looked deceptively young, bar the dark circled eyes and pallor. Green eyes stared back from the glass, looking deep and into his empty heart. As the ignition turn in his fingers, the powerful engine started to roar, and he thought to himself thank god for german engineering.


    The letter inside the parcel was affressed with distinctive handwriting, a curved lower case t that masqueraded as an f, I became an S with an idea, every letter seemed to be curved, as if the mind behind them had wanted them to be softer than was their nature. She ran her finger over the letters, feeling how the pen had etched them into the envelope, imagining his fingers grasping the pen, them moving, those soft uncallused fingers – life as an academic led to men altogether different than normal jobs allowed. Religiously she slowly unsealed the envelope inside the parcel, taking care not to tear it. Inside were carefully folded pieces of paper, with a cd wedged in the middle of the folding. Realising, she needed her laptop to play the cd, she started feeling her pockets. This was always her initial reaction – ironically she didn't know where it had come from. If she had better memory, she would know that the same hands that had inscribed that letter had used to do that to his own pockets, its hardest to fall out, when you don't know your inside. She laughed to herself at this stupid habit and jumped off the bed, feeling furiously around the room for the laptop she needed. Naturally, it was in the last place she looked... or is that the last place she thought to look? The cd slid inside with a slight scrape and then a slow, quiet piano began to play. She opened the folded letters and as she started reading memories flooded in through the words like a trojan with a horse.


    When cruising at a comfortable speed, the car was so quiet, so civilised that it hardly seemed to be moving at all. With what this particular man had in mind today, quiet and civilised didn't quite cut it. He opened the glove box and took out a slieve of cds. Staring out at him was a cd labelled

    Drowning Pool
    -
    Sinner



    *lyrics are from Drowning Pool – Sinner off the album Sinner. I'd recommend you have it playing while reading this part.
    It sat in the car's stereo easily and suddenly a loud fast guitar rhythm kicked in. He pushed the buttons to put down all four windows, leaning back with his eyes closed, staring to the sky at the end of the Champs-Élysées. He pushed down on the pedals and started laughing.


    Dear Mira,
    Life's funny, isn't it? I left you that night in London, unsure of where I'd go. And I found something, a life I guess! Was pretty crazy to be honest


    “Bend me, shake me, misdirect me – it's all the same to me” *


    He laughed as the car started speeding, he could feel naturally when to shift the gear, as the Audi roared passed sixty, he started singing along even while he laughed.


    Dont worry, I am happy! So happy! I guess what I did with my life was told a story, and holy shite is it a story worth telling! I worked as a writer in Vienna for a while, was pretty good but to be honest I didn't like the way they looked at me


    “Look at all these people in front of me”


    People walking along the long avenue stared as the car went flying by, shaking their heads at the stupidity of whoever was driving, hearing the american music blaring out of it.


    I guess what I wanted to say, is live a story, you had all those dreams, and when I found your address still in london, only two miles from where we lived during college I was like holy-


    As the car peaked over a hundred miles an hour he stuck his hand outside the window.


    . Cause, honestly the world is cruel, horrible and unfeeling and it only gives you whatever you take


    “Understand, I'm a Sinner! Don't corner me”


    The car kept roaring down the roar now reaching a hundred and forty, the roar of the engine mingling with the sound of his voice and the stereo.


    Out there people wont care about you any more than you make them, love doesn't make the world go round, out there, it's just darkness and people who couldn't give a – make life what you want.


    The car smashed railing out of the way like they weren't there, pain flared in his arms as some of the fencing around the arch cut one of his fingers off. He still kept laughing. When the front of the car crumpled as it hit the Arc De Triomphe, he still kept laughing. When the back of the car flew upwards, sending him crashing against the roof, he still kept laughing. When he heard the music lose shape as the front speakers broke, he still kept laughing.


    By the way, watch the news tomorrow, I have something a little special planned. Xx
    Entrant 6 - Bolkonsky
    Spoiler for Iscariot



    The ground was shaking, the lightning flashing, and the people screaming, yet the man sat in a corner, with a pile of silver, counting it. As he dropped each one into a sack,he felt sicker and sicker. His face was twisted with mental anguish, every few moment he stopped to cover up his eyes, as if in hope that he could blind them from his sins. Finally, he could stand it no longer. He jumped to his feet, and ran as quickly as his worn sandals could carry him.

    Corner after corner he turned, yet he knew the route by heart. After all, he took it every Saturday, albeit at a slower pace. "Betrayed...forgive...sold..." he muttered, though largely incoherent. Mental scars began to form, his hand began to burn, nausea rode through his body like a boat through the waves. He reached his destination, storming past the guards. His hand touched the cold metal of the door, which he threw open, screaming, "Take it! Take it all! This is your blood!" Down he threw his sack of silver, bursting open as if to say that his sin could not be contained or covered up. It slid across the floor with quite a dramatic effect, though it earned to display of emotion from the two robed men in the room. One spoke, "It was your hand that accepted it. Keep it."

    The man turned from the doorway, and ran. This route he did not know quite so well. Where was the guilt? Where was the sorrow? The silver haunted his mind, twisting and turning it over and over trying to find some channel of escape, but instead caught in the endless loop that it was intrinsic evil itself. Hope? Enlightenment? These things seemed petty. There was but one way to deal with such a monstrous mind that would sell a man fr silver.

    He reached a quarry, out of breath but still determined. A tree, a rope. Shaking hands worked speedily, tying knots without slipping. Slowly he turned his head towards the sky, but at the last second, in a moment of shame looked down. There was no turning back. He ran one more time, never to run again. No forgiveness for his crime. His last thought was only how strange it was that his only remorse was...lack of remorse.

    And then darkness.
    Entrant 7 - Lord Rahl
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Into the abyss, the black depth I looked.

    A good soul was I, but never one to combat the lusts of man. Oh, what a sin, but oh, what pleasures had I. Time and again came temptation and time again they were satisfied without restraint, without remorse. She had lay there in wait, cold, enclosed, untainted by my hands. Upon every indulgence my gaze was greeted the same as the last: eyes of midnight, dead, and devilish, yet yearning to be taken. I could never look away. She was kept safe. Safe where there was no escape. Safe from others...but not from me.

    Always the anticipation effected me. Sometimes I shook and other times a wicked smile spread across my face. But the anticipation was always swept aside by one quick, violent action: a firm grip and a quick thrust were all that I needed to make her mine. Her seductive visage, rapturous smell, and luxurious taste all there for the taking.

    So I let her fall. I let her entire being drop and collect before me. Her form was so much like I had remembered it being. She was a beauty of the night, oh so welcome on lonely nights. And those nights...those nights were all too commonplace.Taking her in my hands she revealed her smooth, velvet body. I knew the night would be special at first sight. Moving in closer she smelled sweet, like dark chocolate, like herself being an aphrodisiac to arouse me. Like flowers. The more I took in the more enticing she became. Finally...I had to taste.

    Sweet like caramel and the taste of Gaia, of Mother Nature herself. Oh, did she move to every manipulation of my hands! I took her in my mouth. Sweet but savory. My eyes closed as I reveled in my own lustful satisfaction. Rapture! But then it ceased. She had been good to me...but this one...would never please me again. I had her and then empty she became, a shell of her former self. Dead. Dead to me except to keep as a trophy. But there would be another. There was always another.

    If society only knew of what I was experiencing, what I had done. If only there were more...like me. More with a heart, a soul that's thirst was not quenched by the plethora of what was available. As if that would please me! As if that would please a heart of darkness...
    Entrant 8 - StealthEvo
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Heart of Darkness
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    With some considerable effort on his part Tom shook his head to rouse him from his growing fatique. The fire had been stoked and the Tavern was warm enough that when one considered the rare full meal he had just experienced and the quality of the Brandy he was surprised that he was still functioning. His partner however was in an animated discussion in broken French or Italian with a woman on considerable heft.

    Rubbing his eyes and looking over the poorly lit room the Englishman turned his attention back to Kit. Unlike the younger man Kit's overall appearence was barely above being a beggar. The smell alone would be enough to repel most women and men on sight yet the older of the pair had a gift with language, being able to talk his way out of most things and into the bed of most eligible women that frequented these types of taverns. Tom however was a touch more respectable. Born of a Merchant in Northampton his youth had been more or less normal. Yet wanderlust had brought him into this spiralling world of deciet, violence and cold blooded killing. The life of a mercenary was hard. Especially when compared to the Free Companies of the Swiss. They made it look professional wheras the work he had been thrust into was more cutthroat. Not that his mind was on work any time soon. Rather it was more interesting to watch Kit convince the 'maiden' in question that the answer to all her problems involved them both naked under what ever cover he could find.

    But it was never meant to be. A shout came from outside, a door was kicked in and Kit ever ready for such an escape was on his feet and flying towards the kitchen. Tom however still coming to his senses and instantly suspecting wrongly that Kit had drugged his brandy. They had shared a bottle afterall. As the guards advanced apoon him Tom realised that there would be no escape for him. Not this time. Kit however almost turned around. As the older mercenary threw his head back to shout something in their native tongue Tom could see the longing in his eyes. Much as it pained him to admit it, they both needed each other. Such was the brotherhood of the dark path. Yet at the same time Kit couldn't bring himself to turn around. Closing his eyes as the guards dragged him from the table, still soaking in the warm of the atmosphere in the tavern. Tom didn't feel the crunch of his jaw as he was thrown to the wet, icy stones and a foot slammed into his face. He was in a better place, one where pain and hurt refused to exist. Yet were always beckoning beyond the horizon.
    Entrant 9 - Boustrophedon
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    I am sick and some would even say a danger to society. I know this and have known it for quite some time. I'd like to tell my story.

    What started out as simple experiments on animals, purely out of scientific interest, somehow evolved and something took hold of me. I could no longer feel like I used to. The sun held no warmth, the wind slipt by without touching my body, a smile no longer provoked a similar response and I came to realize that the only way I could feel alive was the experience of death.

    Animals at first. I can't even name the dozens of pets that disappeared in our neighbourhood. Mr. Frank's dogs, Miss Minelli's cats and kittens, my own rabbits which my father kept in our garden and host more. They all perished and with every life I snuffed out I had to find a new way to kill so the satisfaction could fill my deep abyss inside.

    I quickly realized that small animals did not fill the void inside me like it used to in my early prowling years. I needed to find something that I could hunt which would put up a fight. When a friend introduced me to hunting game in the woods I knew that I could master the art of killing animals in this vast expanse. My hunting ground had grown from a small neighbourhood to an Alaskan forest. Every winter for five consecutive years I hunted bears, wolves and other predators. What better to hunt for than a hunter in his own right?

    I remember how cold it was as I hovered over my latest kill, a sizeable black bear, yet I no longer felt the thrill of the hunt. I never got caught even as I hunted outside the season and I could feel the sickness driving me towards criminal life.

    Humans are the dominant species because of how easily they adapt. Confront them with heat and they will find ways to preserve fluids, confront them with cold and they will find ways to preserve body heat and if you confront them with death...you see their true nature. You witness their inner fears and strength and you gain power from it. To hunt for humans is to hunt a prey like you've never encountered before.

    My first human kill was a lucky one, I admit. She was walking alone by the street as I was passing through a town to pick up supplies and I stopped my car. Some would say she was pretty but all I could see was a challenge. I offered her a lift to her place and ofcourse she accepted. A master hunter lulls his victim into a false sense of security before striking. After a few minutes of driving we passed a panorama of the mountains which she clearly enjoyed though I wasn't too impressed. I stopped the car so she could take a better look. She opened her door and stepped out, gently slamming the door shut again and then I made my first rookie mistake ever by yanking her hair through the window and placing my revolver in the middle of her skull. The fear in her eyes was delicious and I drank it all in before gently pulling the trigger. The force of the blast was so strong that she flew through the car window and plummeted a hundred feet down to the bottom of the cliff. The rush I felt was over in a second.

    I learned from this mistake and ever since wasting that first kill I have perfected my methods so as to keep the prey alive as long as possible while inflicting as much suffering as possible. I take pride in the fact that my kills are mostly young men and women. No old folk for me, thank you very much. I have standards to which I adhere with the utmost strictness. Only young and preferably strong prey like athletes or exceptionally large men will do.

    Around my 50th human kill I became a target myself. The hunter became the prey and even though I had the full might of the FBI on my tail, this only made the hunt all the more enjoyable. For every kill I found a new way to take life. Poison, bows, crossbows, knives, blades, guns, darts, spears, rope, plastic bags, hammers and other tools and even my bare hands. Nothing couldn't be used as a way to take life. Killing a human filled me with pride and I felt so ALIVE!

    After I had killed my 74th (or was it 75th?) human I was caught in a freak accident. By my own sloppiness at that! Paying for a gun with your creditcard is not something I'd advise first-time hunters of human prey. But even as I was in the FBI headquarters, beaten and tortured to confess my crimes, I never stopped being a hunter. I offered my help in catching serial killers (which is apparantly what I am, though I prefer being called a master hunter) in return for a lifetime sentence instead of the death penalty. They accepted ofcourse and I was sent to a maximum security prison facility to serve a life sentence

    Confined in a small room 23 hours a day, behind bars for the rest of my life, eyes everywhere...it was the perfect hunting ground for a master hunter such as myself. In the first weeks I explored the terrain, the prey, the routine of the guards and I made my first kill when I snapped some fellow's neck in the shower. Snap! He was dead before he hit the ground. Glorious.

    I learned that, myself included, there are 708 prisoners here and roughly two thirds of them convicted murderers and rapists. The FBI could not have given me a more precious gift. I am locked inside a hunting ground with the most brutal killers. Men who are part of the most effficient species on the planet. I intend to continue my work here. One day people will see the glory in my actions and they will love me for it...
    Entrant 10 - Solid Snake
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Brightest light casts the darkest shadows

    They say that light and dark is unmixable, two separate entities, apart from each other, and that you are either basking in glory or down in the pits…with lots of grey in between but hey…
    You know people, they either tell you they are going through the best time of their lives, or they tell you how near to desperation are they, they don’t talk about the various shades of grey in between. They make it seem like two separate things, light and dark.


    They say the darkest pit a man will know is the pits from his own soul, you hear and read hundreds of tales of despair and sadness, they are all so dark, no shred of light in their lives, they pray for a sunbeam of hope…


    But what of the despair in the brightest of days? With the wind on your face and the path ahead? Do people never realize that the brightest sun also casts the darkest shadow? What of the path ahead? What of the path you left behind? The shadow still will lay there, tormenting you or waiting for you, even when you are basking in glorious Summer´s sun, for all great triumphs come at someone´s expense, for every word of compliment there was a word of punishment, for every successful step in your path a miserable person was left behind, for your triumph, your light, means shadow and failure for those below. Can you live in glory and triumph knowing that? Will you continue to shed Light even when you cast Shadow upon others? Does that mean that we must be all equal? That no one should ever rise to the heavens like a new star on the starry vaults of the sky?


    And perhaps your Summer will be 10 years long or perhaps it will be the Everlasting Summer from the songs of old.


    But when another light rises, another star, another bright mind, someone smarter, stronger…and now it´s your turn to be in the shadow, its your time to suffer the harshness of winter, what will you do then?
    Will you pray for another Light? Or for another Shadow?
    Entrant 11 - Mega Tortas de Bodemloze
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    alcoholism

    Little Genie in a bottle


    Where can I hide...Where can I go...Not too fast and not too slow. Tell me tell me, little Genie in the bottle.
    They chase and haunt me, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, no matter where I go. The mistakes and grievous errors of the past always catch up to me and become nightmares of the present that torment and ruin my life.

    Plain speak, for a moment: A good friend, a minor soul mate of sorts stopped by twice earlier tonight. The 1st time he stopped by was to borrow a Dollar $US so he could go buy some beer. Mind you now he was on a mission, so no pleasantries just straight to the matter at hand. So....I gave him $1.25 US, in assorted change and off he went....Yeah, "Happy easter"...to you too.

    Well....three or four hours later he returned and to use a clinical term he was "tore up from the floor up." So I came out side and with him and pulled up a chair. Believe it or not somewhere along the way to my place a ferret joined him on the road{ yes, he was walking} and become his unspoken companion and brother in arms. I swear to you it's true, I saw the little bugger scamper across the yard with my fascinated four month old feline closely behind and in tow...

    Anyhow... here's where I got to take a little trip down memory lane. As my friend George, sat there hammered out of his skull, like fried whale on a frosty morning, memories from my childhood about my Mom came screaming back. He and my Mom are like two halves of the same desolate, hopeless soul. I took one look at him and wanted to burst out crying. Both of them are trapped within themselves by demons who never relent or give them a moments peace. The clinical term for this heinous malady is "Terminal Alcoholism." Once it sets in there is no cure and no way for them to ever escape their own self-inflicted sorrows.

    Moving on: After taking in the beautiful night's allure and peaceful enchantment {the gentle breeze, trees swaying to and fro, the moonlight cascading down upon the landscape, etc} George let me know that all he wanted was to stay and crash on the sofa. My retort was that I would bring him a pillow and blanket and he could camp in the in the yard, under the moonlit stars. {Dat's right Baby..."Tough love" no more "Co-Dependency behavior from this kid....smiles, sweetly.} George could not believe that I had just suggested such a thing. {Guess he ain't no camper huh..??.}

    After a few moments pause George, without saying adieus or extending a fond farewell, took his tormented, inebriated soul, and stumbled off in the direction from whence he came. No...I could not say for sure whether his furry,four footed companion, rejoined his Journey or not.

    What I can tell you though is that there is no pot of gold and harmonious existence and the end of Terminal Alcoholism's rainbow. Well...at least not in my experiance...

    Entrant 12 - Constable MacGregor
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    “Since dawn of man, trees has been in our beloved forests. I don’t remember, can’t even imagine, a forest without trees. Remember, when the stem vanishes, the root prevails.”

    Those words were the last my grandfather said to me before he left. And the first he said when he met and spoke to me the first time. Those words are the only I can remember he ever said; even though he said much and many, those few words in some strange way just meant more than anything else … much more.
    Since his passaway, I have been trying to find the meaning of those words. But his words has changed; changed just like so many other things. The first time he said them, I couldn’t really understand them. I couldn’t understand the single words; however, I feel as if I understood their meaning. Now I understand the words, though not their meaning … it’s like if you know one thing, you can’t know the other … it’s strange. Very strange.



    I’ve now paid dearly to get the words written on his stone. His stone at the graveyard. The old graveyard … it’s a sorrowful place to look at; the roof of the crematorium is almost non-existent. The church is old, decayed and its tower in an oblique angle. Furthermore, only the fundament is built of stone; the rest is built of wood, for as the story goes, they ran out of stone, and used wood from the houses. Houses owned by inhabitants of the village! The priest-family. They aren’t nice people, even though they are meant to. It’s here he lies buried … my grandfather. What misery.


    Recently, I looked into his grave. Why I did it I don’t know, but I did it, and that’s a matter of fact. But I found something interesting … there was no body! Only a paper. An old, dusty paper. Almost looked like it was back from the first ages of this world. A paper on which he had drawn trees. A lovely countryside of trees and stones and moss. And underneath it, he had written the exact same words he finished his last sentence with: “When the stem vanishes, the root prevails.”.



    I am now old and weak. Almost as old as my grandfather before he left me. And I feel lonely; I never got a wife, all my friends are dead and I’ve almost become a public attraction to young people. All that for age. And his words … his words still haunt me. I’ve lived a lifetime without finding their meaning, and now it’s clear: I never will.
    Whoever reads this, please, find their meaning. Succeed where I could not. Succeed and let the root be shown. That’s all I ask of you, now that I will leave this world for the better myself.
    Entrant 13 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Words



    Words cannot begin to describe the emotions coursing through a person’s body when they lose someone so dear to them. Yet here I find myself, sat in the glorious sunshine of an English afternoon, trying to do just that. Trying to express the emotions of those affected by the tragedy of a young life so cruelly lost.

    The initial shock when you’re woken early in the morning by someone telling you the news. The disbelief that such a brilliant young life could have ended in such tragedy. The regret that you would never have the chance to tell them how important they are to you or even to say goodbye. The helplessness as you watch their close family and people around you breakdown, knowing that there is nothing you do to make things better. The anger that nothing more could be done to save them and keep them safe. But most of all, there is the crushing pain and sadness that someone so special is gone forever.

    Yet even this does not fully explain the emotions experienced by someone who is affected by such a tragedy. It is impossible to fully put these emotions into words, only those who have experienced tragedy such as this can ever truly understand the pain it causes.

    RIP Elaine. You may be gone but you will not be forgotten.
    Entrant 14 - matt will
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Image found through Google on http://www.kennybrand.com/gallery/da...t-image-31002/


    It was all over...
    The army was defeated...
    We were defeated...
    I was defeated...


    With my men being slaughtered all around by the horrible horde of evil, I decided the only thing to do was run. And run I did. Dodging the evil forces of my most hated enemy. Jumping over the bodies of the dead and damned. Arrows and insults flew past me in my insane charge for freedom. I ran for hours? Days? Weeks? I don’t know. I just kept running. I couldn’t stop and so I didn’t, not even as I approached The Forest. Not even as I stumbled through the dense mass of trees into the darkness beyond. Not even as my clothes were shredded to tattered rags by the brambles and branches in this dark forest. I only stopped when I collapsed over the fallen bodies of fellow soldiers and even then I would have continued if my strength hadn’t failed then and there denying me from scrambling up again. So, I lay there watching as the last rays of the dying sun steadily drained away like my own strength. I lay there as the world around me was swamped in black. I lay there even as I was strangled by the suffocating stench of rotting corpses and plants. I was left to die in the heart of darkness, so close and yet so far away from the world of light.
    And as I lay there I felt a great weight being lifted off my shoulders, I appeared in a field of golden grain and could smell the beauty of the budding spring flowers. I was in heaven and wanted to remain there for eternity and I fear that I cannot do its beauty the justice that it deserves with my simple words.


    And then, as quickly as I had arrived there, I was hauled back to the world of the living. I could hear voices, muffled at first and then clearer and clearer as I slowly emerged from my dream-like state. I was alive!
    But my euphoria quickly evaporated as I realised everything that I had now lost and that I was wrong. Before I was not in the heart of darkness. Only now have I, in fact, arrived there, with no way to get by to the glory that I had lost. Oh how I now wish to go back to the world of the dead, to my own heaven. Oh how I now realise that, even if I were to die, I have no way back there. Oh how I now realise that I am doomed to spend eternity with those memories of heaven with no way to get back there. I truly am now in the heart of darkness.

  9. #29

    Default Re: TotW Story Index

    TotW 110a - The Sands of Time and Incomprehensible Decisions

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    No picture.
    Winner - 'Gunny
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    Her blonde hair sets neatly on her shoulders as I admire her from afar. She crinkles her nose as she laughs at a friends joke. As the friend leaves she catches my eye and smiles at me. A flurry of emotion rockets through my body as I turn away; for what reason I don't know, shame perhaps? Or can I not yet handle the feelings she causes to well up within me? For whatever reason, I turn away and continue to walk, my head abuzz with promises to speak to her one day, some day.

    as another grain of time is lost...

    A short while later she stops me in the hall. My heart skips a few beats as she shyly smiles and asks me a question about an upcoming test. I manage to stammer out a response and quickly move away saying that I need to 'get to class' and that I will talk to her later

    Oh, what a fool, another grain of time is lost...

    The days pass by, and I can still not muster my courage. But there is plenty of time I think to myself; after all, it is merely High School. Prom is fast approaching, I feel this will be my only chance: my one shot at love in life. But I don't.

    And another grain of time is lost...

    Here I am, skimming through my friends pictures of the big dance when I spot her with another man. A mixture of jealous rage and supreme sadness flood through my body as I see her there with another. My adolescent brain does not know how to handle this and I am sent into a depression for the rest of the day. I had waited too long and by doing so I have lost her.

    But the lesson is learned. Seize the Day, and live life to its fullest. You must live today, and not promise for tomorrow. The old adages have truth to them, for the sands of time will not stop for you to make your move, in any facet of life.
    Entrant 1 -
    Entrant 1 - wowbanger
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 


    The Sands of Time and Incomprehensible Decisions



    Death strolled calmly down one of the many aisles that lay between the endless stacks of shelves. All around him could be heard a faint hiss as the sands of time trickled through the Lifetimers, each tiny grain of sand bringing someone’s end that tiny bit nearer. Every so often the hooded figure would stop to examine a timer; placing some back on the shelf for another day and secreting others away under his black cloak.

    Suddenly the reverential silence was shattered, quite literally, by the sound of shattering glass in the next aisle. Death hurried around the corner (hurried is probably the wrong word here, Death never hurries for anyone or anything, strolled might work better).

    Strewn across the floor lay shards of glass, broken metal and scattered sands of some soul’s life. In the middle of this destruction, blissfully oblivious of the devastation around it sat a small white kitten playing with a small ball of pink wool

    OH DEAR, NOW WHAT SORT OF TROUBLE HAVE BEEN GETTING YOURSELF INTO, FLUFFLES, YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE IN HERE Death said as he picked up the small bundle of fur in a bony hand as it stared back at him with its soft blue eyes.

    “Meow,” was its only response

    Death turned to his servant, Albert, who had poked his head through the door to see what the racket was. CAN YOU GO AND FETCH ME A DUST PAN AND BRUSH, SOME SUPER GLUE AND A MAGNIFYING GLASS PLEASE, I HAVE SOME IMPORTANT BUSINESS TO ATTEND TO.

    While Albert shuffled off to find the items required by his master Death leant down and picked up the broken name plate and attempted to decipher the name; the two halves read ‘m Rankin’ and ‘Willia’. Once Albert had returned Death took the dust pan and brush and swept up the scattered remnants of the broken life and carefully carried them over to his large black writing desk, clearing a space upon its surface, depositing Fuffles alongside and thus began repairing the jigsaw of a life shattered to a thousand pieces.
    Entrant 2 - Magicman2051
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Wind streamed over a lonely dune and lofted sand gently into the evening air, each grain seemed to almost glisten like stars in the orange glare of the setting sun, as the parched heat of the day gave way to frozen grip of the night. As Ronald crested the peak of the dune he looked out across the barren monotonous plains which were punctuated by the occasional patch of vegetation or mound of stone and stand, all of it lit in a stark contrast by the evening light. As he surveyed the land around he cursed under his breath, there was no place to shelter from the wind more than scrub or fractured rock could provide, off in the distance he saw one of the grey forests but that was days away at best. Shaking his head with frustration he slid back down the dark side of dune and approached his companions. There were almost fifty of them travelling in a small caravan, united by a shared fear of a lonely death in the seemingly endless wilderness and a desire for familial comfort. As he got closer the convoy began moving again, each person he passed looked at him expectantly and he responded with a quick shake of his head before moving on. Ronald hated the small talk that made of up most of human interaction, it was an attempt to lie to oneself and imagine a bad situation to be better than it actually was, which always caused trouble.

    It had been more than three days now since they had last found a good shelter and seven since they had a chance to collect more water. Even with all of their wagons collecting moisture through condensers day and night they could only provide for maybe half of their number based on what they produced themselves day to day and they barely had enough in reserve as it was, even after killing two of the horses. This worried Ronald more than the lack of shelter, a caravan could go for months without good shelter but if water continued to get more scarce then people could turn on each other fast.

    "There used to be more..."

    He was suddenly broken out of his reverie.

    "There used to be more..."
    "Shush! You need to sleep more than you need to complain."

    He stopped and observed the couple in one of the wagons, an elderly man and a younger woman, as she attempted to get him to drink from a small flask. After a few more mumbled attempts at resistance the old man gave in and seemed to quiet down, the woman sighed and turned, spotting Ronald watching as she did so. He immediately looked away but the damage had been done.

    "You! Would you mind watching him, I need to go get his damned food and I don't want him wandering off. It'll only take a moment," she asked, then in a much quieter tone," please?"
    "I would be honoured," he sighed and turned back," you are named Alex, correct?"
    "Yes, you'll have to excuse my grandfather he is getting along in years now. If he wakes up just talk with him, I will only be a few minutes."

    And with that she left. Ronald was entirely unsure of what to do in this situation, far more used to looking after himself than looking after another, he nervously fidgeted as the caravan began rumbling forward. Fortunately the man seemed to have fallen into a fairly deep sleep, or at least he was until the wagon hit a bump. With a speed that defied his age the man suddenly leapt up and shouted something unintelligible before Ronald grabbed him and pulled him back down. The man fell with a thud and groaned wearily, at first Ronald was worried that he had cause some serious injury as the man was a great deal lighter than his frame suggested but he appeared to be more tired than he was hurt.

    "There used to be more..."

    He repeated that statement the whole time Ronald waited with him, more than once he looked at Ronald as he said it and his eyes were filled with such a depth of guilt that it seemed as though he was about to burst with it. Ronald wasn't sure why but the man irritated him greatly, nonetheless he had been given a task and he would see it through to its end. When Alex returned he got up and left immediately, not wanting to endure forced pleasantries, but he spent the rest of the night pondering the rambling of the old man.

    Two days later they found a water source, half buried by rubble but still flowing, there was a tense few minutes as it was tested with everyone whispering and looking around, scared and anxious. When it was confirmed to be clean a brief cheer erupted from all present and they set about replenishing their supplies, despite the rule being that you refill communal water tanks first most people took a good gulp or two of it before filling their personal flask. This caused some small arguments but eventually everyone moved on. His thirst quenched Ronald was enjoying the shade near the water source when Alex approached him and collapsed next to him.

    "Thank for looking after my grandfather a few days ago," she said.
    "I was honoured," he responded flatly.

    Several minutes of silence passed and he returned to pondering her grandfathers words, trying to work up the courage to ask what would probably be a stupid question.

    "What does your grandfather mean when he speaks?" he asked suddenly.
    "I'm sorry.. oh, that's nothing," Alex responded dismissively and with an undertone of anger.
    "I did not mean to offend, I apologise."
    "You didn't it's just that... I mean he is one of the Betrayers so I just... wait where are you from?" she seemed genuinely put out by his apology.
    "I was raised on the road, this has always been my life."
    "So you really don't know?," she asked clearly stunned," I mean it isn't as though many people do now but I would have though with someone that old... sorry I'm rambling. He was talking about Before."
    "Before?"
    "You really don't know? Wow, I guess... eh... he was talking about the time before it was like... this."
    "But it has always been like this."
    "Not according to grandfather, before he started going senile he would talk for hours about what it was like before, when people lived in cities made of glass and light, used water to bathe themselves. He used to tell the most amazing stories..."
    "That seems like lies, no offence intended."
    "I know right, but he insists it is true and I guess there are people out there who back him up, I remember when I was younger everywhere I'd go people my fathers age would refer to him as Betrayer, in fact anyone who was old was a Betrayer. Something to do with them causing the world to be like this."
    "That is silly," Ronald couldn't help but laugh," how can a man make the world different?"
    Entrant 3 - Aonghus G. Friedhold
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    Its
    11:15 p.m. The only lights on in the house are my reading lamp and the blue glow of my computer screen. I’m the only one awake. Of course. It’s Sunday after all.
    11:16. by Tuesday I may be ready to sleep. But then Ill sleep in on Wednesday and then its all downhill. Minutes tick by.
    11:17. the clock makes everything take longer. Like a dentists office with an obnoxious tick tick tick.
    11:18. it doesn’t take long to type the words. It doesn’t take long to think. It should. Since I should be tired. But that’s one thing I am not. Not by any sense of the word. Theres a point you reach when
    11:19 you know you wont sleep for a while. This is that point. They say computer screens mess with your head. You don’t sleep properly, they say. You’re right about the second part. I lay here, at
    11:20 In the pm, but I don’t sleep. I’ll go to bed at half past, I tell myself. But by the time it rolls around my eyelids are still light. So I say midnight. And I will attempt by then. But I only wake by 3 or 4.
    11:21. then I wont sleep for a while after that. Then up and off to school, where my performance will suffer from my tiredness. Fun. Its astounding what MS WORD does and doesn’t catch. Another minute,
    11:22. this is pointless drivel, I understand and accept, but what else would I be doing? Thinking this. So I type type type away, as if for some purpose. Writing for the sake of writing. It occurs to me that members of my family might hear the click clack of keys and realize I’m not asleep and oh no, you need your sleep you have school. Oh wow,
    11:23.
    11:24. almost got by over a minute without looking at the clock. Good job, progress. Achievement almost unlocked. But I digress from a point that never existed. When I realize typing is loud, I attempt for a while to quite myself. But at
    11:25 I end up loud again. I realize that style > content > neither. This is the latter. It’s
    11:26. Mountain Standard. In Iowa it’s 12:26. In NYC it’s 1:26. In Japan it’s a different time ending in 26. the unimportant ramblings ramble. Maybe I should validate this
    11:27 writing by uploading it somewhere. For noone to read. Space, no one. It’s like a lot. A lot a lot. MS WORD disallows improper alotness. Another minute and it’s
    11:28. by 30 I’ll leave. (remember our talk? You won’t be off, don’t lie to yourself) it’s true I lie to the one person who always knows I’m lying (my mother). That was a lie actually, I usually get away with lying to her.
    11:29, one minute to go. And how would I know if I always know I’m lying? It stands to reason that if I lie to myself and I believe myself I have no way to know whether or not I always know when I’m lying and by extension I would believe I always know. Or something. It’s late,
    11:30, off to the internet but done typing to fulfill almost a promise.
    Entrant 4 - E.K
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Light shimmered off the cool water that drifted slowly down the stream. I eased myself out of the saddle, careful not to fall. I knelt beside the stream, gazing into its depths and sat there for what seemed like an eternity, the occasional fish darted by and I followed it with my sharp gaze until I lost sight of it. The heat of the day was bearing down on me, my weary bones screamed at me as I crawled back to the shade of a oak tree just off the side of the stream. As I rested my back against the trunk I yawned and began to close my eyes. Slowly I began to drift into a deep slumber.

    I awoke to a dark, threatening sky. Rain clouds were forming in the distance and I knew that there was going to be a thunderstorm. I gathered my coat that was still next to the stream and jogged over to my horse that I had tethered to a fence. The horse was shaking it’s head wildly as if it knew that we had to get out of here before the rain came. I leapt skilfully into the saddle and clicked my heals to the horses rump to set us on our way.

    Sure enough, the heavens opened with a crack of thunder and a heavy rain began to fall. The dirt road was turning into a thick mud and it was increasingly difficult to manoeuvre. However, I pushed on despite this and attempted to get home. Suddenly the horse bucked, throwing me out of the saddle. I landed with a terrible thump on the side of the road, glancing back to the horse I see it had bolted and I was left stranded, my face sunk back into the mud and I lay there letting the rain engulf me.

    Finally the rain stopped and I raised my head to see an old man with short wispy hair smiling at me. There was something about this man that was reassuring, my shirt was torn and ragged with a layer of dirt, my hair was scruffy and wet. There was something about this strange meeting that was funny for I looked back to his round, smiling face and I started laughing.



    TotW 111a - Last Stand
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    Winner - wowbanger
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    The Stand of the Swiss

    “Here we stand. Rome may have fallen, but your duty remains clear. While ever His Holiness Pope Clement remains in danger it is your honour bound task to defend with your lives. Now you are called upon to fulfil that duty and so I call on you, the finest soldiers in all Europe, to make your stand. Here we shall stand and here we shall fight and here we shall die if God so wills it. Such a fight we shall make that it will be remembered throughout history. Now go and do your duty.”

    Those were the words that Captain Röist delivered to the 200 Swiss Guardsmen assembled in front of St. Peter’s Basilica that fateful day. Already bloodied, these men, arrayed in their gaudy uniforms and all wielding vicious halberds, were all that now stood between His Holiness and the armies of the ‘Holy’ Roman Emperor. The rest of Rome’s forces, some 5000 militia and 300 more Swiss, either lay dead or dying upon the city streets, stood guarding the last defences, the fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo, or else had betrayed the city, His Holiness and their honour by fleeing from their foes in a cowardly effort to save their own lives.

    Once Captain Röist had finished his short speech, the small company of Guardsmen took up their positions in the square. Each and every man assembled there ready to sacrifice their lives in order to give the Pope time to escape to the fortress of Castel Sant'Angelo and so avoid capture and humiliation at the hands of these enemies of God.

    They didn’t have long to wait before hundreds of Spanish soldiers began to pour out the streets opening onto the square. These Spaniards charged into the guardsmen, who began swinging away with their halberds. These great weapons caused grievous harm to the attacking Spaniards; hacking off limbs, splitting skulls and leaving gruesome wounds upon all they touched and causing the cobbled streets to run with blood. The ferocity of the defenders for a moment checked the Spanish attack, giving both sides time to catch their breath.

    The respite didn’t last long though. The Spanish soon regrouped and attacked again with renewed vigour. Gradually, the sheer weight of numbers began to tell as one by one the Guardsmen were cut down. Inch by painful inch they were pushed back. Captain Röist fell, a sword embedded in his chest while his blood mingled with that of those he slain. Despite all this they still fought on.

    They fought on until scarcely 2 score bloodied and wounded men were all that remained, standing upon the very steps of the Basilica. There they readied themselves for the final assault that would surely overwhelm them all, as looked out over the devastation caused upon the cobbled square. Mangled bodies lay all around, blood ran in rivers across the cobbles and the wounded and dying cried out in pain or prayed for someone to end their suffering. There, upon the very steps of Christendom, those final few readied themselves for one last stand that would go down in history; The Stand of the Swiss.

    Entrant 1 - Lemoniser
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The Last stand of the British 1st Airborne, the Red Devils



    Lance Corporal William Barton looked out the window. In the room with him was his fire team. They were eating their meagre lunches, already rationed even though it was only their first day in because of the critical independence of airborne troops. Private Ulster was quite, he was a veteran of Africa and Sicily, just like Barton. The two other privates were new, fresh out of training and were chattering away about the welcome that the Dutch had given them on the way in. The memory, Barton though, made a grim counter point to this. Then the British soldiers had been stopped, offered food whenever they marched through a town on the way to the bridge, the lower Rhine river beside them.

    Now that same river was visible, but there were no more Dutch citizens with offers of food. Instead the area was abandoned and the sounds of combat, although distant were a grim reminder of what was to come, and of the past horrors of Africa and Sicily. Shaking off these thoughts Barton looked at the bridge. It was a simple bridge, just a road, secured at both ends and with girders arching over it. For any residents it would have been a permanent structure, however to Barton, who knew that it was meant to be the road for the Allied forces to Berlin, it seemed quite fragile. He also knew that the Germans wanted to take it back by now.

    A scenario which Barton thought easily possible. He, like everyone else knew the plan, that the bridge would be secured by the reconnaisance battalion and their jeeps before being reinfored by, in the short term three paratrooper battalions. All that Barton knew was that he had only seen members of second battalion and this had him worried. He gave yet another mental shrug before turning around, he knew that there was nothing he could do about it. He joined his men on the floor, retrieving his lunch and shoving it down his throat, joining in on the conversation, keeping morale high like he knew that he had to. When all were finished he told the new men to continue fortifying the room and told Ulster to come with him. Barton grabbed his Sten sub-machine gun and Ulster picked up his Bren light machine gun and the two left the bed room that their team was occupying. Being on the second floor and giving a view of both the bridge to the opposite bank and the road leading up to it, his fire team was well situated. In the hall were two more soldiers – all knew each other well- their fire team having been split up to cover various single single windows around the house. After a glance at the sound of the opening door they both turned back to their own fortifying efforts. Ulster followed Barton as he walked towards the stairs which ran up and down stairs. The soldier there gave a brief nod to the newcomers as he went about his business. “Go grab some sandbags from downstairs, I'm going to talk to the corporal and I'll be down to give you a hand in a minute,” Barton ordered Ulster.
    “Alrighty,” he answered in his thick Irish brogue.

    Barton ascended the stairs and found himself in an attic, the corporal and the three other lance corporals were talking over a table. The corporal saw Barton first, “Barton,” he addressed him curtly, “I'm afraid that we've had a bit of a bad turn. Frost,” he said, speaking of the battalion's commanding officer, “got through to H.Q. And it seems that we're on our own for a bit. So second section was pulled out and they're going to be fortify a building further out and if need be will eventually fall back to hear. Since it's only our men here we're going to have to spread out more. Ryan's men are going to reinforce the bottom level, leaving the second to you. Private Jennings, the sharpshooter chap, will be stationed up here,” the corporal finished, gesturing to the large window letting light into the room. “Do I have to station a watch to the north or west sir?” Barton asked, suddenly uncomfortably aware of how few men he had. Corporal Williams considered the question and then dismissed it, “No, we'll be watching and you're going to be damned short handed as it is. Well gentlemen, we've got work to do,” Williams said, dismissing everyone.







    Barton looked around. He stood in the hall, hearing the soft sound of conversations and the sounds of his men adding to their fortifications. Ulster was in the fireteam's original room, where his Bren machine gun could have the most effect, while the rest of his team had two other spots fortified, which they would both go to depending on where the enemy approached from. Barton himself was going to float around the positions- as well as the attic- and if the opposition got too tough he would station himself at the empty position left by his team.

    Satisfied with his preparations he joined Ulster, finding him cleaning his gun. Although it was officially meant to be handled by two operators Barton was confident in Ulster's ability to operate it single-handedly, as many had done before him and knew that if the Bren stopped firing it would mean big trouble, at least for Ulster. Suddenly all sounds of conversation ceased and Barton and Ulster both leant onto one of the sandbag barricades next to one of the windows.
    “Tigers,” Ulster hissed.
    “Across the bridge,” Barton agreed, then continued, “don't fire until they return fire or everyone lets go. Good luck,” as he rushed from the room. Barton glanced at the room that the rest of his men were in but didn't have time to give them any final orders so with a whispered “good luck,” he ran up the stairs.

    Barton joined Jennings at the window as he looked towards the bridge through the scope of his Lee-Enfield rifle. Barton looked at his Sten gun disgustedly, “See anything?” he asked, his voice tense and turse.
    “Just our boys at the barricade getting behind cover sir, won't be long now though,” Jennings replied. Seeing that there was nothing for him to do there he left Jennings with a wish of good luck, gave the same orders as he gave to Ulster to the rest of his fire team and rushed to join Ulster and take on the job of loader. He pushed down the familiar feeling of nerves and barely restrained panic and discovered a new feeling, which was terrifying in it's own way, helplessness. The rumble of the tanks was closer now and if it weren't for an unfortunately located tree Barton was sure he'd be able to see them.

    This was soon solved as the tanks began firing. The barricade was remarkably intact after the barrage of cannon fire and when the machine guns began firing with their tracer rounds Barton recognised why, the tanks were ignoring them. The tracers were directed straight at the buildings and the trees was soon cut into small pieces of flying shrapnel and kindling in a matter of seconds. Ulster began firing and flying pieces of brass bounded into the air and bounced across the floor, forgotten.

    Although he wasn't using tracer rounds Barton was an experienced marksman with the Bren and so his bullets were tracing around the leading tank. The gunner was hit and fell back into his tank but that was the softest part of the tank and he wasn't going to penetrate it's armour from that distance, angle or with that weapon so he started firing at the next tank. Barton waited for the moment when the Bren gun would just make an empty clicking noise and when it came he shoved the next magazine into the gun. Ulster cocked it and went back to work, sending up spirals of smoke from the gun.

    The cracks of rifles and machine guns were melded into a symphony of chaos, penetrated by the sudden explosion of a cannon, grenade or even the occasional shot of a bazooka being fired by the British soldiers. Pushing yet another magazine into the Bren gun Barton gazed out the window, looking at the bridge. The front tank was on faire, it's treads blasted off and it's ammunition blowing up inside it, its crew mercifully killed already. The tank behind had one tank blown off but it's turret was still swivelling around, down, straight to the barrier. The huge cannon paused there for mere seconds before it erupted, shooting the shell forth, right into the barrier. The soldiers scattered to both sides there, to whatever was left of the barricade to get out of the way of any shrapnel blown into the sky which was already returning.

    Barton grabbed his Sten gun, slapped Ulster on the back to ensure that he knew that he had left and raced downstairs. There he found everyone at a window, keeping up a constant barrage at the bridge. Pulling corporal Williams back and yelled into his shocked eyes, “Request permission to form an AT fire team to reinforce the barricade sir?” Williams, not quite sure why Barton wanted to do so and temporarily unwitted by the shock of one second being aiming and staring down the flaming and smoking behemoths to looking into the eyes of a comrade, just nodded, putting his faith in his man.

    Springing away from him Barton called four mens names, one of them looked. Gesturing to the door he grabbed the other two and grabbed them towards it. Barton, with another man with a sten and a pair of men who operated a bazooka between them exited onto a street which ran along the river. Crossing this street they reached the right edge of the barricade. Here men were firing across the bridge and Barton couldn't tell if they could see where there were targets. Either way Barton couldn't so he didn't bother wasting ammunition. Instead he vaulted over the barricade and moved up to the burning tank. Taking cover behind it he suddenly realised that his impromptu assault team had followed him. In the cacophony of sounds he gestured to them to wait while he crawled under the tank. The tank was hot to the touch, at an extreme angle with it's remaining tread seeming precariously connected. When he reached the end of the tank he saw the next tank, disabled as it was, on the left of the bridge.

    Barton crawled out from under the tank and crawled towards the tank. He was suddenly heavily aware of the numerous slits in the tanks structure, all seeming to be filled with eyes to the young soldier's mind. The turret suddenly rotated, stunning Barton out of his reverie. Crouching next to the tank he watched where the cannon was swinging, and noticed that it was turning right towards where he had been standing not long, although it seemed an eternity before. Right towards Jennings, Ulster and the rest of his team. Looking at his eye level again Barton steadied his breathing and, suddenly seeing a head peeking out from behind the destroyed tank he pulled his gun up. With a nod at the man he yelled “Wohh Mohammed!!!!!!” a cry that he ahd heard and yelled many times in North Africa, where it started. Lance Corporal William Barton then leapt upon the tank and disappeared into the turret hole, Sten submachine gun blazing.


    Two days later Frost's men were overrun, their last radio transmission, which isn't believed to have reached any British radios but ended, according to German reports with the words “out of ammunition. God save the king.”
    Entrant 2 - Boustrophedon
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 



    THE NOMLIES

    There is no escape. I know this in my heart but a part of me does not want to give up so easily. All my life I had been one step ahead but I realize now that the Nomlies would never stop hunting. I am a threat to their existence and will always be a one in their eyes.

    Life had always been simple for me. I hunt. I eat. I survive.

    Everything changed however when I met her. Brin was the single most beautiful person I had ever seen. I knew how dangerous it was the second I saw her but love is too powerful to smother with reason. I told her from the start we would never have a moment of peace. Always on the move and always watchful. She slowed me down but my love for her forbade me to leave her behind. Considering the current situation perhaps it would have been best not to love at all.

    Brin loved to climb and would always beg me to scale the giant mountains, knowing that I'd refuse. Stay low and stay hidden, that's the mantra I recited to myself to stay alive. Today however I had decided to satisfy her curiosity and we set out to conquer Sukesh Mountain, a giant among his kind.

    We would have made the top, I'm sure of it. The Nomlies however had decided otherwise. Out of nowhere they appeared and attacked us. Brin took an arrow in the chest, piercing her heart. She died instantly and I knew I should have run. I just couldn't leave her behind, the love of my life who had shown me what true living was about. Now she was gone and I could not forget or forgive. I took her in my arms and climbed higher and higher until I reached the top. "We made it, Brin. We made it to the top.", I whispered in her ear.

    I had been wounded as well taking a spear in the leg, but I shook the pain away and grasped my hunting spear. They had taken the only thing I valued from me and there would be no mercy for this. I will die her on this rock but I know that my death will not be in vain. Dieing out of love is never in vain.

    My grip on the spear tightened, whitening my knuckles. I raised my arm and shouted with great fury at the Nomlies. "Come and get me, you demons!", I screamed to the sky.

    With a tremendous effort I launched the spear. A distant howl indicated the accuracy of my throw. One Nomlie down but I knew they would be back and with outnumber me. I had no chance to survive being outnumbered and exposed. Here on Sukesh Mountain I will make my last stand and die. Not for glory but for love.

    Love for Brin, my companion in life and soon in death.
    Entrant 3 - Maximus IV
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    The Last Stand Of General Fatres



    1 January 1185
    Dear diary,


    This will probably be the last entry on this diary. I do not think we will last the night. Our enemies have surrounded us. We camped on a small hill, south of Strasbourg. There is a worrisome lull in the camp. The men are not talking as always. They are silent and thoughtful. Τhey sense that something big is coming… They don’t waste much time talking, but rushing to their scenes…

    It is sunset now. The rain falls lightly in the freezing cold. The mild December slowly vanishes, and the fierce cold of January starts. I can see the first snowflakes… They fall so smoothly … Peacefully…
    The mountains towards us are dressed in white. The trees are completely stripped. Like dead. Dead… What an irony… Nature laughs at us all… Such all things, we all die…

    General Fatres came out of his scene to inspect the fortifications. He tries but he cannot hide his concern. He knows very well what lies ahead of him. But he had no other choice, neither we. We must defend our homes, our land. We are all men of honor, after all. Honor. Freedom. Justice. Ideals worth fighting for…
    Then suddenly a shrill, cold and clear sound echoes all over the camp. It comes from far away… It’s a drum sound… There is confusion in the camp. The General immediately gives orders to the captains to assemble our own troops on the walls. The time for our duty has come. The enemy is at the gates and awaits us!!

    And with these words Captain Christopher Pike closed his last entry in his diary. He picked his sword and ran to muster his troops. When the whole army was ready, General Fatres began to talk: “Gentlemen”, he said with his calm voice “for the thing you hold most dear, march with me now, now for freedom, now for justice, now for FRANCE!! BLOOD FOR FRANCE!! To the Death!! The whole army answered with one voice: YEAAAHHH!! And they took battle positions.

    They didn’t have to wait long, as after a few moments the first volley of arrows hit them. Some soldiers were killed. The enemy tried to break the main gate but it was unsuccessful. The second try, however, was fatal. Enemies got through the main gate and General Fatres yelled: CHARGEEE! Only when the attackers destroyed the main gate and rushed into the camp, the defenders realized that they were heavily outnumbered. Seeing that there was no hope, General Fatres marched into them, with all the army following him for one final battle with death… They fought valiantly to the very end.
    The last words of the General when he left his last breath were: “All…was…well”
    No one was left alive…
    But, they all went down in History…

    Entrant 4 - Abhi lash
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    The war of love and peace


    Years ago in India, when the people were bound and ruled by the cultures and the traditions made by their ancestors, we may take this story of two villages named ramgaon and lakshmangaon which names were reflecting the brotherhood of those two villages and in the taluk panchayat the names of those two villages were written in green color. People of these two villages were the model villages for the other villages and these two villages were different from all the other villages in India. The two villages had only one temple in of the middle of the way between the two villages. In the temple the villagers worshipped the pot of water from the holy river Ganga and not any idol. The villagers believed that water belonged to people of all the classes and religions used water for the practices of their religions and worshipping the water reflected the human culture.

    We start the story with the village sports meet which were always conducted by the people of the village to maintain the friendship and sportsmanship between the people of the villages. In the sports meet the villagers conducted the game of Kabaddi. Every time in the annual sports ramgaon won the tournament but this time lakshmangaon had a great hope from their new captain Surya who was young and energetic had created an ocean of hope in the people of the village. The young man was named after the bright eyes he had and then the name of justified the knowledge and the personality of the young man. Finally the day of the sports meet arrived. The crowd from the two villages arrived in the village open stadium. Ramgaon’s kabaddi team captain Chandra was also a handsome young man with the winning charm in the face.
    The game started as the captains of the teams shook their hands and the match started with the entry of the lakshmangaon team. The first set was won by the team of ramgaon and the people of lakshmangaon lost the hope of winning the match. The hope of the people of lakshmangaon may have lost the hope of match but players of the team lead by Surya were still shining with the confidence. The team of lakshmangaon came out with victory in the second and third sets of the game and the trust of the village was kept by Surya and the record of winning the sports meet from 6 years was broken by the new and young captain of lakshmangaon.
    “You brought back the cup and victory to us after 6 years and didn’t betray us surya the whole village is proud of you young boy,” said the chief of the village lakshmangaon.
    “I am proud to be a man from your village sir I was an orphan and the people of this village has brought me up with so much love and affection, I’ll ever be grateful for this village and the people of this village” Surya replied wiping the tears from his eyes.
    “Let the celebration and prizing ceremony begin,” announced the village chief of ramgoan. Then the presentation ceremony began, Surya was awarded with a garland, a trophy and all other participants were awarded with certificates and medals.

    After the presentation ceremony got over, Surya like to roam the village around and check the celebrations all over the place. As moving round the streets and remembering all the places which he saw from childhood and smiling for all the sweet memories he remembered. Surya had grown up by roaming in the villages and the villages and the people there was his world and he almost knew everyone in the village but he suddenly saw a widow women. She was savithri, Surya’s childhood friend, who was too caring for him. Many times Surya’s food and the fees for his education were provided by savithri, after finishing her schooling savithri had been to city to pursue her education and after her marriage Surya wasn’t expecting to meet her in the way he saw her. She was completely changed, her face was reflecting the pain she has suffered, and the pain of the treatment she had received from the society aftermath,
    “savithri, how are you. And what happened?” Surya had felt really sad after seeing her in that stage.
    "I am fine suri, how are you and this is my fate suri, must get used to it, I’m happy that you won the cup for your village, I must go now, take care”.
    Surya was shocked to hear such a reply from savithri who never spoke less than an hour with him. Later he came to know about savithri from the village people that her husband passed away in an accident and after his death she came here to spend the rest of her life. Life of widows had been miserable in the earlier times of India, people had created blind rules that she must not attend any happy occasions, she must wear a white sari and spend the rest of her lifetime in the grief of her husband, but savithri had hardly spent her time with her husband, her husband passed away only after one month of their marriage. Surya’s winning happiness was flown away after seeing savithri. Surya spent the whole night thinking about savithri and her situation in life, from childhood he like savithri and had always expected her to be happy and smiling always, and which girl he had always seen with a charm and smiling face, he had never expected her to be like that. After that day Surya stayed in Ramgaon. Early morning Surya woke up before the sunrise and then he went for his morning jog and while he was finishing his morning exercises near the river, savithri came there to take water in the vessel of her. Surya went near savithri and said
    “savithri I had always seen you smile and have never expected you to be sad, I can’t see you like this, got to know everything from your mother, I want you to smile again savithri, if you have no objection I will light the darkness in your life”.
    Savithri just listened to this with a pale smile on her face “all these words from you are just coming from sympathy and affection you have for me, I have been used to this suri, you are always my friend suri and you will be, this society will never allow a man to enter in my life again, this is my fate and I think this is the punishment for past sins of mine”
    Savithri finished still wearing the pale smile on her face. “these customs have been made by our ancestors, I can’t say every custom is wrong, when a man can marry other women after his wife’s death so why can’t a women marry another man after her husband’s death, and I am not saying this to you by sympathy, I don’t know when my friendship with you had blossomed to love with you, and when I realized that you were already about to get married and who’ll give a girl like you to an orphan like me so I suppressed everything inside me and wished for your good but things changed in your life and that lead me again to lead your life from the path of this darkness towards light” and he gave his hand forward to her and savithri just wept her tears and joined her hands with him.
    “I’m scared about this suri, people will kill us if they come to know about us”
    savithri said to surya as they walked together,
    “till the last breath is there in my body, they’ll not be able to do like that”
    replied Surya. After that every night at 12 after the two villages have slept those two met each other near the temple of water. One day the villagers got to know about these two and attacked them at the spot of meeting, the villages which were like brothers now fought like arch enemies, Surya and Savithri were grounded in the villages by the people, not allowing them to go anywhere. Everyone opposed their marriage except one in the village, Major Veer an ex- service men of the Indian army, and no one had the guts to go against him or have any fights with him. One night he went to talk to surya and said
    “look son, the whole village may be opposing your and savithri’s marriage but I’ll support you because I know the value of love and everything is fair in that and I even know yours is a true love so you have the support of each and every drop of my blood”.
    Surya’s eyes were filled with happiness and hope “thanks veer chacha, but how?” "do you think I will not plan before this?”replied veer. Veer even went and spoke to savithri about this.

    After some days veer planned their marriage at night 12 near the temple of water. Veer and surya made all people who came in front of them to faint. As the crowd of oppose started to increase veer made them to hurry to the temple. Surya and Savithri went inside the temple and veer said he’ll guard, he stood there with a swords in both the hands. As the crowd of two villages came like an ocean, the ocean stopped as they evidenced Veer standing with a violent face and a sword in his hand. Nobody dared to step forward. After 15 minutes of silence a man came forward to check veer and just came to know that veer was dead he had stuck the sword to his back and was standing outside, suddenly he signaled everyone to attack inside the temple. But after they entered it everyone stopped attacking them as they evidenced that the marriage was over. And everyone had fire in their eyes.

    Surya addressed every one and said “veer chacha sacrificed his life for our love and no god came to stop our marriage, these customs had just blinded everyone here who attacked us, what will you get by killing us, if we had broken the custom according to the rule of this village the water god will punish us but today we’ve broken the custom in front of her, if you want to kill us kill in front of her only” surya finished from wiping his tears.

    The crowd became silent realizing the truth. They finished the funeral of veer chacha and blessed the couple. The sacrifice of Major veer opened the eyes of the people which were blinded in false practices. Ramgaon and lakshmangaon lived in brotherhood like before.
    Entrant 5 - m_1512
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Forward! For the Last Charge

    There stood a rider on a hill. He was sitting on his horse, gazing at the plains below and enjoying his solitude. The hill was a plain one, with few trees and rocks scattered around. It was cool with the winds blowing, telling of the coming winter.
    The rider looked a warrior even from a distance. From his mount to his very attire spoke it. His mount was strong and of grey color, from a distance it would seem as color of cold steel. The warrior on it was a big man. He wore leather armor with overlapping metal plates. His status was obvious from the gold hilt of his sword, He was a Commander. He was well built with a fierce and gaunt face. The grizzled moustache on his battle-hardened face spoke of his ferocity. The lines on his face gave credit to his experience.
    As he gazed, he ran his fingers over his moustache. A year or two, and it would start to grey, he snorted. In the cold winds, he could image a warm bed and a hot meal waiting for him back in the city. He felt dislike for the enemy who came to disturb his peace. Still, he did not mind, he always loved the thrill of a battle. There was nothing comparable to celebrating a victory; again he ran his fingers over his moustache. He was the commander of the advance force. His purpose was to either halt or slow the enemy advance until the main force was ready to defend the homeland.

    He kept gazing at the plains. He could see his force marching steadily towards the enemy. Though the enemy soldiers were numerous, he had faith in the strength of his soldiers. His trusty aide rides and halts near him. The aide remains silent, not wanting to disturb his general’s reverie.
    After a while the general breaks the silence.
    “What is it?”
    Bowing his head, the aide replies, “We are ready, my general,”
    The general nodded in approval.
    “What of our riders?”
    “They have been sent around the hills to flank the enemy.” he said pointing to hills to the right and left ahead of them.
    The general snorted, satisfied and kicked his horse to trot towards his men. Suddenly he noticed a horseman galloping towards him. Following the general’s eyes, the aide looks at the rider, and instantly draws his blade. The general raises his hand.
    “Hold! That rider is one of our own.”
    The rider approaches the two men and reins in his horse, falling from it, in that attempt. The general watches impassively as he scrambles to his feet and salutes.
    Sternly, the aide says, “Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be with your party on the flank?”
    Pale and shivering, he replies, “My lord. We were ambushed. There were archers on the hills,”

    The general looks at him with a glint in his eyes and says, “And?”
    Cowering under his gaze, the rider continues, “The captain ordered me to report to you, and the rest, to continue the advance.”
    The general ponders for a moment, then straightens up and says, “Can you ride?”
    “Yes, my lord,” the rider replies, bowing.
    “Report to the infantry captain, tell him to halt and prepare his men to engage the main enemy force, immediately.”
    The rider acknowledges and sets forth.
    The general watches him gallop towards his infantry. He could see the entire battlefield; his men formed several lines, eight ranks deep, spears at the front and archers at the rear. He could see the enemy approaching, and could not help but notice that they were three times larger.

    The hordes were marching in small unruly square formations, and were prepared to engage anyone who stood in their path. They had deployed a few archers on either hill to protect their flanks. Though they weren’t experienced enough, their formation served two purposes, to maneuver easily, and to bluff their opponents by their massive numbers.

    The general watched from the hill, the enemy bands close in, and the two forces clashed. The watched proudly as his men took on their enemy.
    The captain of the infantry roared in exasperation. He had at first howled in delight at the sight of the ragged looking enemy approach. He took a step ahead, and cut down several men within minutes. He heard an arrow soar past him, as he took a step backwards. He looked onto the ground where he previously stood and could see the arrow lodged into the ground.
    The general watched the ongoing battle with growing concern. He had clearly underestimated them, and their ferocity. His men kept falling at random. Even the ones in the middle and last ranks faltered at the enemy arrows. He looked around and saw archers on the hills surrounding his infantry.
    The aide looked at the battle and gave worried glances towards his lord. He knew his lord was wrecking his brain for a solution, to extract the army out of this disastrous position. For the men would not be able to hold much longer, eventually they would break.
    The general noticed some commotion at the rear of enemy force. As he looked for the cause, a smile lit his face.

    His riders had appeared.

    They had been reduced to a quarter of their strength. Their armor shimmered with blood, the effect of the rain of enemy arrows. They regrouped and formed a continuous line.
    The general said to his aide, “You see our riders, sound the order to the infantry to fall back. Give the order as soon as you see the cavalry advance,”
    The aide nodded. The general added, pointing to the foot of the hill,
    “Regroup the men there in a continuous line.”
    The aide took out the horn, gave two short blows, then a long one. He was off galloping towards the foot of hill.
    The riders began their advance. The trot changed to canter, then to gallop. As the enemy came within range, they took their bows and started firing arrow after arrow. As they came even closer, they threw their bows and took hold of the lances.
    They hit the enemy with tremendous force. Many enemy soldiers were killed, some by the impact of charging armor, and some by the lances. The riders caused considerable damage by their slaughter, but were eventually overwhelmed.
    The enemy regrouped and sounded the charge.

    Meanwhile, the general had joined his infantry. He spoke to his aide.
    “Go back to the city. Tell them that the enemy has been engaged as ordered. Now tell me, how much is needed for the main army to prepare?”
    The aide ponders for a while.
    “If only their advance be halted for two to three days,”
    The general grunts, replies,
    “Alright, I will see to that. Now, ride back to the city.”

    As his aide gallops off, the general addresses his men.
    “My brave soldiers, you have fought well today. I know you would like the comforts which your brothers back home have, but it because of you that they can enjoy it in peace. Your sacrifice gives our people freedom. Your death gives them life. The enemy is near, eager to taste cold steel. Forward! For the Last Charge.”
    They charge.


    They clash of the charge impaled many by the spears. The archers kept firing at close ranges, and then took to slashing with daggers. A spear thrust into the general’s horse, causing the animal to stumble and crash to the ground. The enemy warlord unsheathed his blade and advanced towards his fallen opponent, with an wicked smile on his face.

    At that very instant, the general leapt to his feet, sword out, and charged at the warlord, roaring. He was stopped by several arrows thrusting into his body and a spear in his throat. But his charge had scared the warlord’s horse causing it to dismount its rider.
    As they searched for their warlord, they found him motionless on the ground.

    Dead and his face pale and contorted with fear.

    As the aide traveled for home, he wondered what his general would do, and what became of the battle.




    TotW 112a - The Man Who Would Be King
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 

    Winner
    - Katsumoto
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    It is a strange thing, being a king.

    Power corrupts, they say. I have seen it happen. My father, once a noble and kind man, fell to this disease, this sickness of strength. It enveloped him, robbed him of all reason and decency - men were killed merely because they were thought to have spoken negatively of my father. Fear spread like fire through the kingdom. That fear, driven by desperation, eventually turned to courage and rebellion. The people could not take it a