Art, Writing, and Learning: The Clerisy Quarter => Writing, Poems, AARs, and Stories - The Storyteller's Hall => Stories and AARs => Topic started by: Son of the King on January 06, 2018, 11:04:45 AM

Title: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Son of the King on January 06, 2018, 11:04:45 AM
I'll start this thread with the complete version of the story I posted the first 7 sentences of in the 7 lines challenge thread. I'll probably add more stories in the future, as and when I convert them from ideas into something more coherent.

Viknar swung his pick. The sound echoed through the empty mine and almost seemed to add to the chill in the air. The others had begun refusing to come this deep once the unnatural cold had set in, but Viknar's dwarf blood could feel the valuable ore close by.

Viknar swung his pick. Stonetown needed him to find the ore. The economy was already suffering greatly after the old mine dried up, and Newdelve turning out to be a false hope would be more than the remaining miners could bear. They would move on, sapping yet more life out of the dwindling village.

Viknar swung his pick. Aldoric had promised to handsomely reward the miners once this excavation was a success. Land, power, riches, all potentially just behind the next piece of rock. The others' voices drifted down the tunnel; they had begun drinking already.

Viknar swung his pick. He liked ale just as much as the others, but the work was too important. He was afraid, just like the others, but he couldn't give in now. Why wouldn't they help? Why wouldn't they see?

Viknar swung his pick. One of the support beams creacked, and some dust fell into his beard. Viknar swung his pick. An icy breeze blew from somewhere. Viknar swung his pick. The sound changed; there was a hollowness to it.

Viknar swung his pick. The rock peeled away easily, exposing what looked like a stone wall. The tunnel grew colder than ever, and the breeze returned. Viknar paused, and steeled himself.

Viknar swung his pick. More rock fell away, there was definitely a wall. The stones were icy cold. Viknar thought about telling the others, but he could still faintly hear the sound of them drinking without him. Again.

Viknar swung his pick. The pick smashed straight through the cold stone, and pulling it out brought a good portion of the wall down. The breeze whistled through the hole, and a shiver went down Viknar's spine.

Viknar took his lamp and crept inside. He was in a long room, with a door at the far end. A dim glow was seeping through the gap around the door. In the centre of the room was a pedestal, almost as tall as Viknar. Each side wall had two alcoves, each housing a statue and what appeared to be a sarcophagus.

Viknar stepped forwards. He thought for a moment that he heard one of the others shout his name. The room became utterly silent and his breath hung in the air as mist.

The door exploded off its hinges. Viknar was thrown back out of the room, and into the wall of the mine. A blue flash, and everything was frozen. A shadow burst out of the room, and Viknar saw nothing else.

A support beam creaked and cracked, blocking the tunnel with splintered wood and rubble. The others sprinted towards the mine's opening in a drunken panic. An ice cold blast forced them onward, but only as soon as they could feel the sun, a shadow from behind caught them. Their limbs froze and the world went dark as the shadow drained the life from their bodies. More rubble fell, and the shadow passed on, out into the world beyond the mine.
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Carad├Člis on January 06, 2018, 08:37:26 PM
Wow! This is amazing! I know it is kind of a complete story, but it really makes me want to find out what happened next...
I also really like the repetition of the first sentence throughout the text, as it creates this perfect image of the repeated action (I mean, I probably don't have to tell you this, but it just felt worth pointing it out...) :)

Really looking forward to more things here, I really enjoy reading this... :)
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Jubal on January 07, 2018, 01:05:25 AM
Viknar swung his pick and...


(This is really good, more please!)
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Glaurung on January 07, 2018, 01:33:06 AM
"We do not fear what lies beneath, we can never dig too deep"!
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Jubal on January 07, 2018, 10:09:48 AM
I think the discworld quote about Carrot knowing a lot about iron and very little about irony springs to mind here :)
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Son of the King on September 09, 2018, 04:21:26 PM
This is a spur of the moment thing based on a not very well formed idea, but lets see how it is. I'll probably write more of this at some point. Its from a universe entirely unrelated to the other story.

"Come, my child," murmured the priest, "its time for you to hear the truth of us."

He swept out of the marble entrance way and deeper into the temple, a whirl of feathers and glinting runes. Suppressing any usual indignation I would feel at being called a child, I followed into a long corridor which was decorated with the beautiful art which decorates all the temples in Caspia. The pictures tell the story that everyone knows, of how the world was crafted from a dull grey orb by the Firebirds, of how the same Firebirds carried the ancestors down from the heavens and taught them how to live.

Though I knew what was coming, I wasn't scared; it was an honour to be chosen to become part of the priesthood. I was to be the first priest recorded to have come from my town of Beyele. Apparently the Seekers had discovered something of importance there, and the high priest determined that it was a sign a priest needed to be taken from the town. Most children grow up hoping to be chosen, but few are lucky enough to see it come true.

We arrived in the main public room of the temple. Stone benches were arranged in concentric circles around a central raised hemisphere, which the priest stands atop during rituals. Around the edge of the room are columns, each adorned with an individual glimmering green rune. We headed straight through this room and past a door on the far side, into the private quarters. The priest led me to a small room, with an ornate door in one wall and some simple wooden seating. He gestured for me to sit down.

"This is the beginning, after this you cannot go back." He spoke quietly, as if he was concerned people might be listening at the door. "Are you ready to begin?"

"Of course," I replied, hoping my voice sounded as confident as I was trying to tell myself to be. I knew that no other answer was acceptable, and I'd already come too far to be allowed to turn back.

Wordlessly, the priest strode to the ornate door, taking one of his runes and pressing it against the frame. The door opened itself, and he stepped through. I followed quickly behind.

We were in another long corridor, this time with stone walls. The priest's beak cast unnerving shadows on the walls in the unnatural green torchlight. As we moved down the corridor, I noticed primitive paintings on the rocks in the wall, depicting the same things as the art in the earlier corridor. The well known tale of the Firebirds dragging water and grass from the stone, before bringing the ancestors to their home. I sometimes wondered what happened to the Firebirds that were here, the stories never get that far.

Now the art depicted a less happy part of the tale. The ancestors wronged the Firebirds in some secret way, and they exacted their burning vengeance. The world burned with their rage, and the glories of the ancestors were lost. Now only the priesthood knows what went wrong, and they jealously guard the secret and use the knowledge to protect us all from it ever happening again.

We reached another door, this one even more ornate than the last. It was made of some kind of metal, and reflected the green light of the corridor onto our faces, as the priest turned to me.

"Follow what I do," he whispered to me, "and you'll do your family proud."

There was a pedestal to the side of the door, with a dish on top. There was a sharp spike pointing directly upwards from the centre of the dish. The priest took his real hand, and pierced the tip of his middle finger with the spike. He looked pointedly at me, and pressed his hand against the centre of the door. The door sprang back at his touch, and slid into the walls. He walked through, and before I could follow the door closed behind him.

This part of the initiation was well known to most people. The door was a test, and it would decide whether or not someone chosen by the Seekers was truly worthy of joining the priesthood. I pierced the middle finger of my right hand, as the priest had done. Some said that on occasions the door would take a long time to decide whether someone was worthy, sometimes requiring more blood than that from one finger. I wondered about the priest's other hand as I pressed mine to the door. It immediately sprang back at my touch, and again slid into the walls. I stepped through.
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Jubal on September 12, 2018, 11:36:50 PM
I like it :) The ritual stuff is really good.

I think the only improvement idea/advice I'd make is to leave out the placenames in this sort of in medias res opening. I think it's tempting to intro things like that from the world building very fast, but actually it's often better to build them in more naturally via mention in conversation, and I think giving the reader a feel for the world before they have to start remembering places in it is helpful in fantasy writing.

Looking forward to seeing more, anyway :)
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Son of the King on September 16, 2018, 10:42:30 PM
Thanks for the criticism, I agree it does feel kinda forced especially in that piece. I think its partly because I was just writing things that came into my head and trying to use it as a way to help structure my thoughts about the world.

This is more spur of the moment stuff, continuing the last post.

"The inner sanctum," the priest announced.

I looked around. The doorway led into a sunken part of the room, opposite it were steps onto the main floor. The room was roughly square, bathed in the same green light as the corridor, and with many shelves and cabinets around the outside. Most shelves contained books, but others contained various oddities that I presumed to be relics discovered by the Seekers. There was a stone table in the centre of the room, almost like some kind of altar but without the usual decorations a temple altar would be covered in. The priest stood at the top of the steps ahead of me, just in front of the table. With his real hand he reached up to his face, pulled on his beak, and removed his mask.

"Climb the steps, and wait here."

He walked to one one of the cabinets, and opened it. He retrieved another beaked mask, this one had less feathers than his that was now sitting on the table.

"This will be your new face for the outside world. You must wear it at all times, when outside of your temple's sanctum," he instructed, handing me the mask. "Put it on."

Gingerly I raised the mask to my face, trying to hide my surprise as it appeared to reshape itself to fit my features as it touched me. I let go, and the mask held itself to my face, as if it were tied on by some invisible string. Its grip seemed to extend, as the mask itself continued to wrap around me, forcing my ears against my head painfully. Now it covered my ears, briefly making the room seem silent, before the sound of the crackling torches came back, almost clearer than before. The growth stopped, the mask hung in place, and began to feel like a part of me.

"The masks are gifts from the ancients, meant to help us guide our people through hardship," the priest explained. "Only the worthy can wear them, and once worn a mask is bound to its owner until their death."

He moved to a different cabinet and opened it. He hurriedly pulled out a feather cloak like his own, and shut the door again. I managed to glimpse the green glow of some runes inside, and also something that looked like an arm, fashioned from metal, not unlike the priest's own unusual limb.

"This cloak will help the people accept your words," he went on, "it helps them to understand that a priest's words are those of the Creators themselves, if we dress to match their vision of the Creators. Put this on too."

I did so, and he went to a shelf on the far side of the room. He picked up some amulets, each with a rune faintly visible on it. He also brought a small box with grooves in the top. He placed the box on the table, and placed the amulets in the grooves. He held his hands above the box, and reverently recited an incantation. The runes began to glow more brightly, until they looked the same as those on the priest's own amulets. He picked out the first amulet, and brought it to me. I went to take it, but instead he grabbed the back of my head with his metal hand.

He pressed the amulet against my forehead, which was covered by the mask. The eyepieces went dim, and it felt like the room was spinning. There was a fuzzing in my ears, and then he let go. A brief moment of disorientation later everything cleared again, and almost seemed more sharply focused than before. He placed the amulet back in a groove on the box, and took out the other two. As he came towards me instinctively I stepped back, almost slipping down the steps.

"Your reaction is normal, but you must be enlightened," he whispered threateningly, "but calm down, the worst is over for now."

He held out one rune.

"This one will entrance the people as you speak the words of the Creators."

He placed it around my neck, and then put my hand over it and recited another incantation. The feathers of my cloak changed colour and shimmered, until they resembled flames. The feathers of my mask seemed to grow to cover the rest of my head, and I was almost a Firebird incarnate to any casual observer. He regarded me for a moment and I tried to look as priest-like as I could. Seemingly satisfied, he muttered another incantation and the effect ended, I was again just a regular bird-priest.

He held out the other rune.

"This is your key to all the doors you need to open."

I realised it was the same rune that he had earlier used to open the door in the private quarters. He placed it around my neck too.

"This will be sufficient for now. Next you will speak the words of the Creators to the people, and their reaction will guide the rest of your journey," he explained.

"How will I know the words?" I asked, attempting to sound interested rather than concerned.

"The mask will speak them through you. You are a conduit of the Creators now, a tool for them to use as they see fit. A hand to guide the people to avoid the rage of the Creators from being needed again."



He put his mask back over his face, and pushed me ahead of him towards another metal door. I pushed it, and it didn't open. I was briefly worried, and then remembered the rune around my neck. I pressed it against the frame, and the door opened, revealing a short corridor which opened into a room containing some stone benches, and a large wooden door.

"Go." the priest commanded.

I walked forwards, and opened the wooden door to reveal the balcony everyone was familiar with, where a new priest leads their first worship, and takes their first flight. I stepped out, to the cheers of the crowd.
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Son of the King on June 29, 2019, 12:36:55 AM
This is an unfinished draft of a thing I wrote a while ago, it was meant to be part of a brief history of a world I work on from time to time (and actually attempted to run a mafia game in here once).

Isla Venarta is the island upon which the mighty Venartan Empire was constructed. The anchoring stone and perpetual safe haven throughout centuries of war and politics, a small island off the coast of Alatra gave refuge to a group of boats that would change the course of history.

The fall

Old Venarta as it is now known is the true ancestral home of the Venartan people. During the Cataclysm, this home was shaken to the ground and swept away, as the world changed form with unprecedented speed.

A small group of survivors sailed aimlessly across the vast ocean, and at their lowest ebb were washed ashore on a small island. The island was a lone mountain, standing bravely against the lashing waves of the sea.

Making shelter and safeguarding their last reserves of food, the survivors made a desperate attempt to make this place their home. Exploration revealed that the far side of the island, which was no more than 5 miles across at its widest point, was less windswept and had a coastline with calmer seas than the ferocious northern shore. Here, in the light forests at the foot of the mountain the survivors built their new homes.

A new home

The seas provided adequate fishing, and the forests held a good amount of wildlife, and the survivors' camp took on the look of a frontier settlement from their homeland. Wooden huts roofed with grass, leaves, or occasionally tile made from the abundant clay found by the river to the east set in a rough circle about a central meeting plaza, which here was simply a rough grassy patch with a permanent fireplace.

Tracks lead away from the settlement the short distance south to the coast, east to the river, and crept northward into the forests on the mountainside. At the shore a space was set aside for the construction of small boats to replace the ships the survivors arrived in, which were damaged beyond hope of repair. These boats were used for catching the more numerous offshore fish, to sustain the town. The boats were launched and landed on a simple sandy beach, sheltered by promontories of land on either side.

The tracks to the north were used by folk heading to the woods to hunt and forage, and by woodcutters bringing fresh timber from the forest back to town, or down to the boat-building efforts at the beach. There were some huts further up the mountainside for these kinds of people to use for shelter and rest whilst away from town.

With being away from town came danger, as the local wildlife was not all placid deer. Large, fearless eagles had been rumoured to attack folk who wandered too far up the mountain, and a number of wolves had been known to like the taste of human flesh as much as deer in the early days of the camp. Stone weaponry and organised defence had been enough to teach the wolves that the  camp wasn't a good place to find food, but they were still brave enough to attack a lone hunter on occasion.
Title: Re: SotK's Short Stories
Post by: Jubal on July 06, 2019, 10:48:57 PM
Ooh yes, I remember Venarta :) Sorry for slow reply, was at a conference.

Some thoughts which occur to me: