I sit near the fire and drink my ale, a much-needed release after today’s march. The clear dark sky has always unsettled me, but the lingering lights are what make me wonder. Are they the gods of old? Beacons of hope for a better tomorrow, or just lights that eventually vani- I feel a hand slap my shoulder, I turn to see who interrupts my enlightenment. It was my former brother in arms, Michael.
“What brings you here, old friend? Surely not my grim company anyway,” I inquire.
“Just passing by to visit your sister’s brothel... and to collect on your debt,” he says grimly.
“Well, I think I saw your mother in there the last time I was there, Actually yeah I paid for her that night,” I reply.
“I would say this war has killed your wits but I was always skeptical of its existence.”
“This war has killed much more than that, how long has it been now? Seven years? Eight?” I say sadly.
“Nine years actually, and all of it over a fucking ear, the ‘civil ear’ they are calling this war” he snaps.
“Who are they, is this your imaginary elves again?” I say jokingly.
“I don’t want to get into this anymore, but the reason I have come is to recruit you and your ‘broken men’, we need your aid,” He says pleadingly.
A bitter laugh escapes my throat “The only people who call us that are our enemies and dead men, which are you? You ask aggressively.
“No offense was intended, but your small band of men ARE broken. They don’t have anything left to fight for and have suffered every hardship known to man if that’s not broken I don’t know what is.” He pauses for a moment, then stares directly at you. “You are the most broken of all,” he says wondering if he should continue. I give him one hard look and he takes the hint.
“Your job is simple, I believe the merchant’s guild is assisting king James in the war against our rightful king Robert. They have a convoy that we are going to ambush I will give you more details tomorrow,”
It was a sunny day and the war had only begun 5 weeks ago, I was only conscripted 2 weeks ago. This was my first taste of combat, we got ambushed in a forest, me and 30 other boys from the villages scared shitless. I felt a warm trickle down my legs, I look down and realized I pissed myself, I quickly glance around to see if anyone noticed but everyone else was focused on their own upcoming demise.
Whilst we emptied our bladders, a portion of the enemy flanked us, we quickly tried to get into formation but some of the conscripts decided running was their best chance. They never got five feet until they were cut down. The enemy took this opportunity and charged.
A bulking figure slowly advanced towards me.
I raised my shield.
He quickly advanced and struck hard at my shield, shattered it.
I quickly roll and get into a defensive posture.
He recovers from his attack and swings again.
I use my strength to deflect the blow.
It works, I then offer an attack of my own.
Dazed, the giant is unable to block and suffers a wound to the shoulder.
Seeing a chance, I press my attack.
He falls to my barrage of blows.
Darkness consumes my vision.
I frantically reach out for my sword, I feel a hot sensation fill my hand. SHIT, I burnt my hand, again. These nightmares are going to kill me if I don’t first. I brush these thoughts aside and quickly get dressed, today is the day we become outlaws. Michael’s plan was simple, we wait for the merchant’s train to arrive, we pose as bandits and attack, Michael and his men arrive and pretend to help, finally, we take the loot and kill them all.
In the distance, riders are seen approaching. It is time.
We arm ourselves and hide until they are close.
Wait for it.
One of their guards advance.
Impatiently, I quickly move towards him and attack.
He parries and counter-attacks.
I run him through and move onto my next target, a fat trader.
He tries to load a crossbow but it jams.
I quickly advance on him and behead him.
I look around at the carnage unfolding, I notice Micheal is absent, he must be fighting at the other side paying no mind to your old comrade, you rejoin the fray.
A boy no older than 15 charges towards you.
You effortlessly put a dagger through his eye and see a true opponent, A massive man covered in silver armor.
I slowly advance towards him.
Sensing weakness, the giant moves quickly to attack
I stumble towards him.
He takes his chance and swings.
The feign worked.
I parry his blow and offer a devastating counterattack.
Enraged, he attacks me with all his power.
I suddenly collapse.
Fear paralyzes me, is today the day I die?
As he prepares to finish me off, a blade comes out of his skull. Michael. “Better late than never,” he says with a grin then moves onto a new target.
I look to see what caused my sudden fall and see a massive cut on my chest. That guard must have cut me, the bastard.
Now that the battle is finally over, I walk over to Michael and see that he is torturing the leader of the merchants “Please, I have a family, don’t hurt me,” he begs
“I will let you go if you tell me where the chest is located,” He says in a calm but terrifying manner.
His eyes convey terror for but a brief second, then he decides to comply and points towards one of his wagons.
We take the chest out and put it in the middle of the ruined area, we go into formation in case any stranglers decide to be a hero.
The chest in all it’s golden glory has wards of protection on it, Superstitious nonsense.
I open it and only find golden cups and a couple of golden plates. Confused, I start digging through it. I feel something weird, a small misshapen object, I pull it out. An old decaying ear, Wait is this THE EAR as I stare in amazement, I hear my men cry out. I turn around and a dagger stabs my gut, Micheal has betrayed me. “I am sorry for this but king Robert really needs this ear.” A man I would have called a brother has deceived and dealt a killing blow, all of this was over a fucking ear.
A fair story, but it feels a bit rushed. The transfers to and from the dream sequence feel a bit rough. You never explain what the significance of the ear is. It feels a bit odd that at the beginning of the story you threaten Michael with violence because of the name he puts to your band, and by the end of it he's a brother. You use the wrong words at a few points. For instance "The feign worked." I think is supposed to be Feint. I'd also like to know how a crossbow jams. I know weapons fail, but I have no idea how a crossbow would actually jam.
The plot's interesting and I'd like to read a bit more of the story. If you feel inclined please write a bit more. I'd like to see the world fleshed out.
Yeah, this was pretty rushed, I wrote most it in about 45 minutes or so.
1. The Protagonist got defensive at the name as they dislike it.
2. Wrong words are a pain in the ass and after the voting is done, I will revisit it and fix those with other errors too.
3. My idea for the crossbow was the bolt mechanism failing, I am not an expert on crossbows so feel free to laugh at my ignorance.
Thanks for your feedback, hopefully, I can explore more of this at a later date and fix this story while I am at it.
Edit. for the dream sequence, I was going to make it of more importance but time constraints just caused it to be rushed and have a rough transition to the next scene
Yes you did, I just wasted the time and did some school stuff relating to philosophy.
If I absolutely must choose one of these, I guess I would have to reluctantly pick Kar's.
As the frail old hermit looked out his castle window, he grew sad at the events to come. Alas it was inevitable, the two brothers and sisters were too much the same. Their father will was originally intended for them to pick one of their sisters to rule beside them and split the kingdom down the middle, but just like every king the brothers were power hungry.
While on the surface they may look like some frail old hermits, at their core they were indeed great strategists. The sisters were mighty sorcerers that, while not a mate to the king, helped their brother by carrying out his will in battle. The king with the army's mind, the queen was it's blade, they were the perfect combo. Both sides also had eight legions of soldiers to fight with, along with their special forces. Both sides had two legendary knights, that were known to get the drop on more powerful forces. Two squads of holy bishops that vanish their opposition with their holy weapons were also ready to be deployed. Also in dark dungeons in different corners of the kingdom were giant beasts that were extremely powerful. They were extremely powerful, but not very smart. This made it so that getting the drop on it was easy, especially for a priest because it was weak to their holy weapons.
Since both sides had an equal amount of pieces to work with it was a battle of the mind, rather than numbers. Whoever was able to outsmart the other would gain control over all of the kingdom. The more pristine brother used white as his banner and the more down to earth one used black.
White was sick of this and made the first move by advancing his soldiers, as did Black. Though after Black suffered a loss of a legion of soldiers, he called out one of the great beasts from its dungeon to crush the soldiers who killed his men Infuriated, White let his knight go and patrol a new area of the battle field, scouting for enemies. That way he could have his revenge.
While he did that Black let his super weapon loose. His sister, the queen, could easily overpower anything else out there provided it did not get the jump on her, and her teleportation provided her with insane mobility. Though as she had to focus where she was going, it was limited.
After a few more battles White had lost all but one of his soldier legions, and a beast on top of that. While Black had lost one beast, a knights, a priest, and a legion of soldiers. While White may have had an astounding lead, it would only grow larger after the next days events.
The next day the black queen was patrolling the west side of the battlefield, when she was ambushed by a beast. It managed to damage her greatly before she was able to get back on her feet. After that she proceeded to attack it, but her arrogance lead to her downfall. With her being damaged and her mind scrambled, she could not teleport out of the way of the beasts attack fast enough. This caused her to be hit and stagger, leading her into a flurry of attacks that she had no chance of surviving. The black queen was dead.
Overcome with grief, black formed a devious plan. As it was dangerous he had to set up his defenses first, he did not want people to invade his castle. So he took control of a beast still inside his dungeon. He made it mutter an ancient phrase. Once the beast did it the runes on the dungeons walls lit up, and a white light consumed the beast and the king. When it subsided they were both in a field that was in between the dungeon and the castle.
Next he sent a squad of soldiers to push all the way deep into White's territory. He did not explain his motives but he positioned his troops so that they could have a clear path. A few days later they arrived and noticed there was a barrier that looked white. On their side, there was one that was rumored to be black, though only the special forces had ever seen it. They were then told to place all of their hands on it, and as they did that a beam of light came out and they all died instantly, and from the ashes a lady comes out. It was Black's queen. She teleported directly by his side, as he developed the next phase of his plan.
With the queen by his side the king felt a huge confidence boost. With her by his side he could come back from the jaws of defeat and snag a victory! He could feel his very essence buzzing at the thought, so he sent out his very last beast to go do some damage to the enemy.
However this would be a bittersweet decision. On one hand it was able to destroy an entire squad of priests and one of the white knights, though this had unforeseen consequences. The other squad of priests were outraged at the death of their fallen comrades, and as such asked to be sent to hunt down the beast. Once they found it some of them lured it into a valley, while the others sat up top the overhang. Once the beast started chasing them, it thought it one once it backed them into a corner at the valley's end. Just when I was about to destroy them the priests up top poured holy water on it from above, effectively killing the vile creature.
After this the king became frightened at the thought that he might lose. This clouded his judgment, leading him to make a ton of irrational moves. These lead to the destruction of all but him and his queen. While he had nothing but his queen White still had one beast, a legion of soldiers, and his queen! At the sight of this the queen went out into the battlefield, with the hope of capturing White herself, despite Black's protests.
The queen was blood thirsty for revenge, and White knew that. After factoring that into his calculations he sent a legion of soldiers right where she could kill them. After taking the bait, she swiftly was stabbed through the heart, by the woman she used to call sister. She crused as her soul left this realm for the final time.
This utterly broke the king. As he knew they would come for him, and he had no chance anymore. He headed back to his castle, so that before they could capture him he could at least spend a little more time with his favorite comfort, books. He read about death and war before the white queen walked into the throne room. He put up no resentence as she took him. He had already accepted his fate.
After being thrown into the castle prison he sat there, feeling numb. As he awaited his beheading, an unescapable sense of emptiness filled his entire being. He had made so many sacrifices to get where he was. So many wrong decisions that he thought would be justified if he could have just not let them in vain, though in the end they were.
The day before his execution he was brought before his brother, to give his final words.
"Say brother," Black said, "do you believe in free will?"
"What? Why of course. It was my actions that lead me here. How could I not"
"Well as of late, I've been thinking about it. What if there was a supreme being that controls all of our actions and makes us think that we came up with them?"
"Hah, sounds like you can not come to terms that I made better tactful decisions then you. There is no supreme being, so away with ya! Go hang in the gallows!"
"Ya I thought you would say that."
With that Black was set to hang as a warning that the old days were over. The kingdom would be united at last, and there would be no talk of any rebellion, lest they would meet the same fate as Ol Black."
Though right after Black died, everything turned into nothingness. It was so fast that they forgot they existed before they knew they had died, and this is how it would stay. Until next time the boys decide to play chess
I like the concept of this, creative and something unique. However, it’s execution was not up to the mark. There were a lot of typos and syntax errors that interfered with the reading. There also was a lot of lost potential where you could’ve expanded and added more popular chess moves. Maybe you could’ve made white accept a reduel with black and black uses a scholar’s checkmate to win the game in two moves? Scholar’s checkmate could be explained by having a secret dungeon or something. There were many other chances too. The ending put me off, you should not have revealed the story as a chess game, idk why but if you reveal that it completely breaks immersion and whatever I read meaningless. The story was serious but you abruptly changed it to a comedic tone in the end, which was very off-putting. Stick to one tone in your story.
The effort was there, you just need to fine-tune your writing skills. This really had the potential to become a wonderful piece of literature if the execution was done properly.
That form of inheritance that you say probably wasn't a thing was called Gavelkind. All of the property is split up between the sons, if there are no sons it is split up between the daughters. It's why Germany was considered a joke until the past few hundred years. It's also why it's a German tradition to slam your mugs together and make sure your drink splashes into all the other drinks. That way if someone poisoned your drink, they're going down with you. Come to think of it, it's also why you put the knife on the right side of the plate and the utensils that are hard to kill people with on the side of the plate that you keep the hand you don't kill people with.
You'll notice in English homes you set your hands in your lap at the dinner table. You set your hands where everyone can see them in a German household. So remember everybody, Gavilkind is how you make sure only the strongest of your sons survive. Also how you make your country a joke.
Most points have already been mentioned, but I wanted to mention one thing Kar. The combat sequences were a bit weird. Like, all I know is that ‘this happened and then that...’ without actually feeling it. Your character is in first person, so adding a bit more description like, “ you come into his striking range a slightly stumble; showing weakness. Your opponent, thinking that he caught you on a wrong footing, rushes forward; but he took the bait. You swing your sword in an upward arc with all your force and using both hands. Your opponent’s weapon is momentarily pushed back, providing you with an opening. However, as you move forward to drive your sword through his gut, you fall down...” and so on. It would’ve made it more realistic and immersive.
Kar’s felt a bit more generic than Serpent’s, but Kar clearly has put in more effort with syntax and such. Serpent’s idea was good but the execution wasn’t. I vote for Kar, but if Serpent had put in a bit more time and effort, he could’ve had a good chance of winning.
I figured out the entire plot for serpents story in the middle of him describing the army. Add that with serpent putting no effort into fleshing out the characters, putting much into the world, or adding an ear, and that leaves my vote with Karstark.
I think that puts it five to kar and zip to serpent. Pretty obvious winner here.
I vote for car