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No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
I'm afraid there won't be a Weekly Review this week due to my work pressures/lack of time and the fact that I just don't have time to write the whole thing this week :D I'll try to bust out another edition next week but as my workload is increasing until I change jobs and cities this summer I might not have as much time in the future; in consolation here is a typically great piece of writing by everyone's favourite carefree author, the site's lovable resident Irishman Steve24833 :D

Barak was never a superstitious person, but he was always a complacent one. When the priests came along, year after year collecting their flesh tithe, Barak never complained. Friends, cousins, uncles were all taken by the masked warriors with their stone clubs, on the orders of the priests whose sightless eyes scoured the throngs of villagers, picking out one "lucky" soul to be taken up the great mountain where their fate is unknown to the common farmers like you, only known by the priests themselves and their warrior bodyguard. It finally changed on a cold day as the first life of the year broke free.

Barak knelt over the snow, gathering firewood, Bundled in his arms was whatever dry wood he could find. He picked up a large branch, revealing a small green sprout bursting up from the frozen soil. He paused, frowning as he realized what the first burst of life of the season meant for him and the entire village. He considered hiding it, just brushing some snow over the green sprout before Tana saw it, grinning.

"Winter is over! It's finally over!" she said gleefully.

Barak grimaced, before nodding.

"Yes, it is."

"I'll tell the chief," she said, gleefully, turning to rush off.

Barak considered turning to her, trying to stop her, convince her they didn't need to tell anyone for now, but that was not only far too risky for him, putting him in the sights of the rest of the tribe. It wasn't worth saving a few days before someone else noticed some other green, if that.

"Go," Barak said, as Tana eagerly ran off. Barak sighed, and turned to walk after her.

***

The entire village stood outside the rows of huts, watching the procession of people enter. Warriors, tall, strong and muscular figures walked in, wooden clubs studded with stone held in their hands as they hefted them over their shoulders, chanting in a deep, melodic unison. The priests, all ancient figures whose eyes are milk white and completely sightless, wailing with high pitched voices that crack the solid chanting of the warriors, marched along. They clutched at the faces and hands of villagers, as if that helps clear the haze of the Gods' visions and help them find the one who needs to be given up to Oro'Maki in the mountain. One of them paused in front of Barak, grabbing his faze and squeezing it tightly.

"Yes... yes..." he said, stretching your mouth and pressing his dirty fingers against the inside of your cheeks, before tapping your teeth gently.

"So close... but too old," he sighs.

The high pitch wail of a baby breaks through that of the priests', and the priest in front of you pauses. His toothless mouth shifted to a grin as he turned around, wrinkled fingers wrapping around the chubby limbs of your little brother, Rama.

"Yes... here he is. The boy."

Barak turned to look at Mama, but she was dull and complacent. He nodded, slow and unsure, before simply handing Rama over to the priest, who nodded happily. Barak paused, looking around to see if anyone else would act before grabbing at the priest's arm. Instantly, the warriors surged forward, letting out shouts of anger at his defiance to the will of the priests and more importantly, the will of the Gods.

"He's just a baby!" Barak said.

"He's gone either way!" the priest says. "If Oro'Maki isn't pleased, he will awake from his home in the mountain and everything will die!"

Two of the warriors stepped forward, stone clubs in their hand, ready to swing. Barak considered fighting, or running, but he knew he had no choice and nodded.

"Good boy," the priest nods.

The priest pulled away, free of Barak's grip. Rama stayed silent,, not understanding the gravity of the situation, his infantile mind content. watched, his eyes filled with passion as their attention shifted back to their chosen one to be taken. Barak would do... something.

***

Despite Barak's earlier outburst, the village was as always a trusting place. They trusted that when wind came, spring would follow. They trusted that the priests spoke directly for the Gods themselves. They trusted that when Barak said he was going out hunting for those little squirrels and shrews that had woken up from their slumber. He had not. He crept up the mountain slowly, determined. He would find his brother up the twisting, frosty mountain. He knew the priests and their prophecy was wrong. Oro'Maki had slumbered in that mountain since the start of time itself. The tribe hadn't always been in this place. Thus, when they weren't there, there would've been no one to perform the rituals and Oro'Maki's wrath would've been released long ago. No, these were the superstitions of fools, and he wasn't letting his brother fall victim to them.

It wasn't hard to find the priests' mountaintop temple. The pillar of smoke rising up from the side of the mountain showed him where to go, and he did, heading straight up the frozen path. He clambered up the frozen terrain, a long hunting spear in one hand, the other holding onto the frozen rocks as he moved further up the snow. His feet were almost blue and purple from the cold. He didn't know how the elderly priests could survive the journey up here, let alone stay up there for weeks at a time. He continued up there for a good few minutes, before he finally arrived to find the small camp nestled away in the mountain, just at the edge of a sharp cliff and a long drop.

A dozen hide tents sat around a large fire. A few warriors sat around the fire, conversing as they roasted wild Pheasant over the campfire. Barak listened softly for crying of Rama, hearing it in one of his tents. He edged down towards the tent he heard the crying come from. He lifted up the back of the tent, dropping to his belly and crawling into the tent. Rama lay in a bundle of cloth and furs. One of the priests, an elderly female, stood next to him, gently soothing it. He paused, unsure of what to do.

"We sleep now, little one. We wake at midnight for the ceremony."

The priest turned away, lying down next to Rama. It was cold and it was late.

Barak moved forward slowly, creeping along the tent. The soft snoring of the priest assured him that sleep had taken her. He slowly put his hands around Rama, slowly prying her fingers off the baby boy. He gently slid the snoozing Rama free of the priest's grip, before she tensed up. Barak froze, pausing.

"Ah!" the priest screamed as she burst awake. "Intruder!"

Barak didn't have time to think, only to act. He drove the tip of his spear through her wrinkled throat. She paused, gurgling on her own blood as she collapsed onto the ground. Barak grabbed Rama, who woke with a start.

"Intruders!" a warrior outside answered to the dying priest's final call.

Barak swore as Rama burst into crying. He considered heading out the front, but he decided against that action as a club forced its way through the tent entrance. Barak turned, diving to the ground with Rama above him, as he began to shuffle through the bottom of the tent opening. A hand grabbed his foot, so he kicked, his bare, frozen feet land on the wrist of one of the warriors. The warrior releases his grip, only for his stone-studded club to slam down on Barak's ankle. Barak screamed loudly as his ankle broke. He gritted his teeth, squeezing Rama as he pulled himself free. He burst forward, dragging himself out into the frosty cold illuminated by the golden sun that disappeared over the horizon. He tried to stand, but only collapsed back on a knee. A warrior appeared, swinging his club as it smashed into his arm, bruising flesh and perhaps breaking bone. Barak screamed, desperately clinging to Rama as he struggled to his feet.

"Watch the child!" a priest yelled.

Barak tried to run, before finding himself surrounded by warriors, the priests standing cautiously behind him. Rama would die at the hands of these fools in a barbaric sacrifice. He would be executed for killing a priest. Their deaths would be certain if Barak surrendered. He looked around, as the advancing warriors pushed him further back to the edge of a drop.

Barak had no choice. Clinging tightly to Rama with his spare hand, he stepped back, plummeting off the edge of the cliff. He plunged through the air with a scream, smashing into the cold, frozen ground. His legs shattered as they hit the ground as the cold, frosty wind carried his screaming voice far on the wind. He slammed into the ground, spiraling down as he smacked into the stones and ice as he bounced off the cold tundra as he screamed in desperate pain, trying to shield Rama from the fall. His head smacked into a chunk of ice, before he quickly lose consciousness.

***

Barak woke, lying in the cold earth, bathed in moonlight. He head tightly onto a bundle of cloth and flesh, struggling to recall what had happened. Suddenly, the piercing scream of Rama roused him as he tried pulling the blankets off to reveal the tiny baby at the center of the pile. He shivered desperately and cried, but he wasn't bleeding, his limbs seemed where they were and he was alive. He gently kissed the top of its head, wrapping it up in blankets.

Then, he tried to move. Even moving his legs an inch shot pain throughout his body and made him wish for death. He stopped moving, knowing his body was broken and he wasn't able to move. In the distance he could hear the voices of others. Other villagers, hunters perhaps, or foragers. Hunters, more likely, taking advantage of the dark to sneak up on resting herds. Rama cried for attention, and Barak relaxed slightly, knowing they were coming. Perhaps they'd take him back to the village and give him back to the priests, where he'd meet his fate anyway. Perhaps, since the sacrificial date was over, as night had already fallen and the sun was rising in the distance once more, they'd let him be, or perhaps they'd already found a replacement. Maybe they'd see when the world didn't end that they didn't need to do this. Maybe they wouldn't. It didn't matter. It was beyond his ability to do anything at this point.

Barak's head rolled back, as his mission stared up at the mountain. He heard a very loud boom, the top of mountain lighting like a torch, spewing black into the sky that blocked out the rising sun. As the volcano erupted in the distance, death took Barak and he closed his eyes for the last time.

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago

It's good to take a break once in awhile.

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
Rocks fallVolcano explodes, everyone dies.

I was wondering where the review was, this thread got shoved down so fast I didn't even see it. Nice to read another Steve story anyhow.

Anyway, RL has to take priority, so nothing to apologize for there. Do you need Irish folk hero @Steve24833 to take over for another couple of weeks?

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
This explains why Sunday was so quiet. I'm updating the Lists article, can send a list of everything new that was added to the article if you want to make that a bi-weekly section in the review.

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
Yeah, sorry about that :) Tbh I'll be a bit busy with real life for the next six months due to changing jobs, changing cities, changing apartments, two holidays to two different countries and various other stuff... apart from copying and pasting articles and contributions from Mizal and Steve it's a bit hectic to write a whole Review every week and my inspiration is running low :) I think a break for the Review for a few months again before picking it up for another run might be handy for me :D

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
No worries! Maybe Mizal could actually get some commendations for her contributions now haha!

No Review this week but here's a cool story

one month ago
Haha yes :D I think the Review will be published in what are effectively series, a number of editions for some months, a break of a few months, this another run of editions etc to give me a chance to streamline the review, play around with what works and doesn't work and also give everyone a period to experience the truth joy-less horror of a world without the review before returning their salvation to them :D Plus I'm really tired atm :) No Review this week or next for definite and probably not for a few months :)