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Author Topic: A decent story, not a community game. Savedashes (Warning, a little Dark)  (Read 13765 times)

Truean

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   Musrin had insisted upon digging the graves himself. He would hear no talk of how he was some hero or brilliant strategist, but rather he stood still and ignored it. The praise seemed to torture him and he silently endured it. In his mind, the plan and the choice were his alone. The only casualties occurred  within mere feet of him. Thus, the consequences were his fault, alone. Musrin's memories were merciless and more than unlikely to forgive him or fade. None of them knew a thing about his sins, how the misery began. They didn't know; it was his heart and his burden.

   Most everyone else was the distraction. Musrin stayed behind to Sheppard the civilians. He had taken their horses for his cavalry. They could not move, so he wouldn't either. Their safety or danger was his too now. He feared the goblins would come to their pantry or stumble upon it in hiding after being driven from their camp. He would lead them north and west, the most inconvenient route for the goblins to take. He hoped they wouldn't take the path of most resistance, but somehow they did. Unfortunately, his first notice was a scream.

   "And the punchline to your joke is screaming for someone to save you...." It was a final cruelty from the goblin.

   He ran towards that shriek and found a goblin fighting a man. The man was losing and with one fell stroke had lost.... Musrin plowed directly into the goblin, but too late. He felt the goblin scout's ribs breaking under  his fully armored thrown weight before it flew some feet and landed with a thud and frantic gasps for breath. Knowing the goblin wasn't going anywhere, Musrin turned to the man, who was also still alive, barely, if you could call it that.... His neck was torn open in a terrible gash under a wellspring of blood as he tried to breath with great effort. The dwarf immediately knew the man's wounds were too numerous and too great to allow him to live longer than the pain.... Musrin's pity glanced down at him as his sword hung over the man's severed throat and he held his hand, "I'm sorry...." It was all anyone could've done for him. He didn't suffer any longer....

   The dwarf turned and screamed at the goblin, "Where are the rest of you! You always have more than this! Where are the rest of you!" The goblin only smiled through his pain, the screams behind them said everything. Musrin's answer was a sword through the heart and a dead run towards the screams. He knew they'd be bleeding and heavens help them now as he heard the sounds....

   Musrin had begun to hate the gods when they allowed the citadel to fall. He prayed to them as he ran now to save these people at least if they wouldn't save his own.  They would never take him alive. He would survive and still be here. He knew this as he ran towards the first of the goblins as the humans ran from them.  The dwarf caught the hammer's blow on his shield but still flew backwards. It felt like falling in reverse.... It shook him for a moment but no longer than that.

   This was all the time the goblin needed to prepare for another swing. Musrin threw himself to the right and avoided it; that goblin did not avoid the dwarf's sword. Musrin left it sticking in the brute's belly to avoid a spear thrust against him and to thrust his boot into the side of the speargoblin's knee. The knee was never meant to bend that way. It bent that way. Musrin thrust the screaming goblin with the shattered knee into the path of another goblin's axe stroke. The screaming stopped; the axe was stuck; Musrin could finally retrieve his sword.... The axe wielding goblin shortly died; his axe still stuck in his comrade's corpse.

   The goblins were leaving and trying to take some people as food for later; some resisted and some couldn't resist. One of the children, a boy of no more than 15 winters, stabbed a goblin in the leg with a small hunting knife--hindering it and giving the rest enough pause for Musrin to catch them. The boy was repaid by a sword impaling him. Musrin couldn't notice then, he was preoccupied with severing a goblin's leg with his sword after being knocked to his back by a hammer. The now one legged goblin was also on the ground and significantly less of a threat. Musrin rolled towards him to regain his footing and avoid another blow. The instant he found his feet, his blade found a goblin neck and then another.

   One goblin in particular seemed to worry Musrin more than the others. He was quicker than the rest and wore a panther's ruined skin. The pelt had many savage wounds; its wearer had toyed with the beast before he killed it. His cruel serrated sword blocked Musrin's at every turn and might have struck him at least once were it not for his shield. An ambitious younger goblin thrust a spear at Musrin while the panther skinned goblin held his attention and was rewarded by being struck down by the next swing of his leader's sword. The dwarf was his and his alone on pain of death as all the others had come to know long before.  This was sport to him....

   Things were going badly for the dwarf in a fight for the first time in a long time. The commander refused to believe the level of his foe's skill. Each time Musrin struck, the goblin's sword caught the blow before it could land. If nothing else, the goblin seemed to be exerting himself somewhat, but it was a question no one could answer who would tire and slip first. Rather it would've been had that boy not pulled the sword out of him and put it into the panther skinned goblin. By pulling out the sword, the boy had sealed his fate--he would now bleed to death. Musrin seized the opportunity to stab his foe again and make sure the boy would at least drag him to the beyond with him....

   The goblins set down their future meals and focused on the dwarf. They couldn't eat if they died and the dwarf meant to kill them as he just did the one with a leg missing. They finally found their senses and found a simple answer: running away.  The dwarf gave chase but was weighed down and could not fly fast enough to catch his fleeing foes. He flung his sword after one and it grazed off the shield over its back. Still running he cupped up a rock in his hand and threw it. It struck a goblin who unfortunately kept on running. It was no use. He could not catch them and he gasped for breath under the weight of his armor as he tried and failed. He slowly trod his way back to the humans. His pace quickened as much as it could when he heard another woman's screams.
   
   He saw her kneeling down by the poor lad's side. She screamed and cradled his corpse, "Someone, anyone, get a doctor! Take everything I have! Save him! Save him.... Please...." Heli came in her Dwarven white, but blood covered, apron. The dwarven doctor merely closed her eyes and looked down. This silence said nothing and that was everything that could be done for him. The newly grieving mother continued to beg in vain and scream at the gods for an answer as to why. There was nothing to be done, the goblin had made a saint of him.... The dwarven commander was not fast enough....

   Musrin looked down at the lad and thought to himself "Thanks to you, the worst of them received a lethal blow, and yet I can do nothing for you.... I'm supposed to be so damn powerful, and yet I can't save a single child? Damn it...." The weight of his failures had caught up to him in this moment. He was Musrin Uristaol, Captain of the Ashen Arms, 5th battlegroup. He could not save his Citadel and forced a promotion out of it. The Citadel, the battlegroups, everything, everything was in ruins and he had thrown the lever to bury it all. He pictured that fire and ice ran chill through his shaking veins.... He understood why Coler drank so much; it seemed a luxury he could not afford. He merely walked off. He couldn't and wouldn't begin to say who had lost more. He lost a whole Citadel; it was all he had. They had lost families; it was all they had. These people had enough grief; he wouldn't show them his.

   Musrin did not attend the funerals, though he insisted on digging the graves himself. Just as he had insisted on entombing the citadel himself and was the one to pull the lever, he would personally deal with the wreckage from his decisions and no one else would have to. He could hear some of the children crying out and not understanding why their parents were put into the ground in the distance as he stared off into the horizon. He could not focus on the present or the past, they were too horrid for him to see. He tried to force his gaze upon the future..... Irua found him like this and sat next to him silently.

   He finally spoke after seconds stretched into silence as they both stared to the far off sky, "Its a terrible rain we're having isn't it Captain?"

   She looked confused. There wasn't a cloud or a drop in the sky. She started to ask what he meant, but then saw tears on his face, "O.... yes, yes sir. It certainly is...."
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 10:09:37 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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   Somehow the humans and the dwarves had taken to one another in a sense. Neither had anywhere to go or anyone to be with and both seemed to benefit each other at some point. They would find or lose their way together somehow. They would find some new home.

   Coler had developed something of a reputation and a fame among the humans and he didn't want either of these things. They would've given him anything he wanted except it seemed he didn't want anything. He merely ignored them when they offered him a place to sleep that wasn't under his uncle's wagon. This was an improvement from the last time someone had made him this offer.

   He could never sleep at night the same, because he closed his eyes and saw that land under a magmatic sky. He would never go to bed again. He would never fall asleep and die, and he would never go to bed and go back into that day and back to that place worse than hell in his head. He would never sleep through that hell again for the first or last time. It was a blur to him in his dreams.  He would never let himself sleep. He would never let a roof get in his way again and would lay under the stars. Nothing would get in his way or trap him underground and no one could say anything to ever make him go back to beds. It was safer this way for him from dreams and for escaping if he had to.

   Coler still kept overwhelmingly to himself but would now and then take his uncle's axe to fell trees. He'd then carve it as he had been taught to so long ago into many things he saw people needed. He gave these works to them for nothing, left as they slept. They would awake to a new wood set of bowls, forks, toy goats,  or even wagon parts. Coler had built this wagon with his uncle and it was the largest thing he had left of him. All of his work was better than anything the humans had ever seen before. He knew of wood well, but he did not like it so much as he once had, because wood burns. It troubled him that he knew wood well and hated things that burned. Wood burned.... This thought turned over and over in the embers of his mind....

   Still Coler found this was a decent way to pass his time. There was plenty of rum left but there was no more being made. Eventually, he would run out if he kept drinking it as if it came from a fountain. Who knew when the next brew could be made and by who. They had no hops or grain as such and though their food stores were full, none of it was fit to brew. Sobriety was the third to last thing Coler wanted after sleep. Though he knew wood well enough to carve it in his sleep through decades of practice he preferred not to have it come to that. It was too easy for him to do this but it was something to do other than sleep.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2011, 11:35:24 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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I'd like to thank those who have commented thus far. Unfortunately I've not had time to respond to you properly. Due to work concerns, I will be posting irregularly between the 24th of July and the 30th.

I've considered actually making a game for this fort but some problems present themselves. Namely, the game has certain restrictions which do not fit into my narrative. While I could mod some things, I could not alter others and this is a restraint I don't want to operate under. This is a concern, not a complaint as the story was not set to necessarily be from the DF world as it stands to begin with. Examples.

1.) I've got a mess of humans and dwarves starting a settlement together but the game limits number and species.
2.) They have a large number of goblin tents they will be using for shelter originally. There is no way to have this material in game currently.
3.) I cannot customize what engravings or other features are in game to fit my story.
4.) Certain personality traits (you know about Coler's but not others yet) and their associated effects cannot be replicated in game (Coler will never go to bed for example).
5.) I see no reason to restrict the story to one site. Fortress mode would require this.
6.) I cannot define relationships between people, especially the complex ones I have planned.
7.) The game (understandably) only has certain items and functions in it rather than the numerous ones I have planned. Further they are all made from one component (all beds are one material and involve no sheets for example).
8.) These and other limitations are not conducive to my storytelling. I fault no one for this and in fact enjoy the game for giving me an audience.

That said, I'm considering going on without a game (DF or otherwise) to add support to my story. I might consider using drawings or other aids though. Given that this is a multiple chapter, complex story, I don't really see a way around this.

Maybe in the future I'll do my own set of narrated fortresses.

Yours Truly,
Truean
« Last Edit: July 23, 2011, 03:12:37 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Nivim

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 You choose appropriate titles.

 Considering what you have so far, I don't think anything other than text will be neccessarily or even beneficial to the story, but I guess you might see more readers that way.
 For that post where Coler was attacking the goblins who offered him a sacrifice, I thought from the names and the "crimson" description that he had actually been infected with something and turned into what most horrified him without even realizing it. Taking the posts afterwards with this in mind is kinda interesting, and still just barely possible if no one has gotten a good look at him... did the red pill actually make him red colored?
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Imagine a cool peice of sky-blue and milk-white marble about 3cm by 2cm and by 0.5cm, containing a tiny 2mm malacolite crystal. Now imagine the miles of metamorphic rock it's embedded in that no pick or chisel will ever touch. Then, imagine that those miles will melt back into their mantle long before any telescope even refracts an image of their planet. The watchers will be so excited to have that image too.

Truean

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Thank you.

I agree about not attaching this to a game of DF, too many limitations to go with the story I have in mind....

Coler
Coler is an interesting character with a lot of history behind him and developments.

Description as "Crimson"
Nothing so complex as turning into an actual demon or being red colored from a pill.... Simpler explanation:

The goblin's description of Coler and how it "knew" he was a demon:
"It killed and ripped the faces off all three of us that got near it. It's not a Dwarf, 'cause Dwarves got beards and wear metal! This got no beard and its skin ain't shiny!"

 "We think it killed them [the dwarves from the citadel of wonders who "must've brought the wagon here"]. It's covered in blood and dwarf clothes are torn up 'round it."

Coler is fast (far faster than Musrin) and thus he was the "crimson blur" because he was just covered in blood. He is not taking very good care of himself or maintaining himself. He was involved in a bloodbath of a battle in the Citadel of Wonders as it fell. He has not since cleaned himself up and he has a lot of blood on him literally: both his own and other people's. He spent a lot of time getting overly drunk under his uncle's wagon contemplating suicide, because his mind couldn't quite handle the loss of his friends and the dwarf he loved. I won't reveal at this point if he was actually being haunted by her ghost or if he was hallucinating or what. ;)

The goblins believed Coler must have been a demon due to flawed logic which was that Dwarves have metal (armor) clothes and beards. This thing didn't have either (Coler wasn't wearing armor, was covered in blood, and he tore out his beard during the end of the fall of the Citadel of Wonders). Moreover, it was hard to see him given that he was under the wagon the entire time and the only people (goblins) who saw him died... (it was hard to get a good look at him). No beard, covered in (dwarf?) blood, and no armor = not a dwarf? Thus, maybe it was a demon? Or at least this was the goblin reasoning.... Simply he didn't fit as what they thought a dwarf is and so perhaps he was a demon. No one said goblins were brilliant or had perfect information. :)

Coler's State of Mind:
Coler has something like PTSD. He has seen a lot and he doesn't quite know how to deal with it. This is entirely understandable given everything he once knew is ashes and his lover died in agony in his arms to demons. Coler's uncle was a very skilled carpenter and taught Coler his craft; they built the wagon the dwarves now use together.

Coler has developed the curious habit of not wanting to go inside much, sleep, or use a bed, preferring to sleep under his uncle's wagon when he must. There are many reasons for this. First, he was trapped in the Citadel of wonders as it fell, so being outside means he won't be trapped. Second, his uncle's wagon, aside from being outside and thus making it hard for him to be trapped, has sentimental value because it reminds him of his lost family. Third, sleeping brings on painful memories in a vivid dream Coler would rather avoid. Fourth, Coler is a trained woodworker. Being outside gives him easier access to material.

Life is messy. Misinformation happens. It drives nations, men and the plots of stories both real and imagined.... :)
« Last Edit: August 01, 2011, 12:07:14 am by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Nivim

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[...]"We think it killed them [the dwarves from the citadel of wonders who "must've brought the wagon here"]. It's covered in blood and dwarf clothes are torn up 'round it."
Heh, I had interpreted this with demonic transformation in mind as well; how Coler had grown larger, bursting out of his own clothes and some of his skin, thus becoming so ravenous that he was fully willing to eat goblin faces, and even the rest of the goblin bodies. I imagined that he must have longer and larger teeth (horrifying ones) to remove goblin faces, and when he mentioned the goblins lacking a third eye, I had thought it came to mind because he was seeing through one now.

Life is messy. Misinformation happens. It drives nations, men and the plots of stories both real and imagined....
I think I'm going to continue to try assuming that those who think he's a dwarf are misinformed and imagining things; I doubt it can last long anyway.
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Imagine a cool peice of sky-blue and milk-white marble about 3cm by 2cm and by 0.5cm, containing a tiny 2mm malacolite crystal. Now imagine the miles of metamorphic rock it's embedded in that no pick or chisel will ever touch. Then, imagine that those miles will melt back into their mantle long before any telescope even refracts an image of their planet. The watchers will be so excited to have that image too.

Truean

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   Nera couldn't stop her hand from shaking; it would make her hand writing unusually terrible. They couldn't waste the parchment, only so much was taken from the citadel and no more could be made at present. She didn't seem to like the sleeves from her robe today; they shook as her hands did. It was far more comfortable to wear her craftsdwarf clothing anyhow, the numerous pockets on the front gave her a familiar weighted feel. It held her firmer than she held the charcoal as the lamp flame danced in the darkness on a wick. This was the third night of this needless shivering and she hated it.

   She couldn't believe she was the governor of this operation. There were so many things she could make a mess of by sheer accident and the thought of each terrified her. She wished there were anyone else to design this entirely new hall, for dwarves and humans no less. It was terrible. There were so many things to consider and each thing was competing with the other for space, for building time, for functionality.

   The last clasp on her craftsdwarf's clothing snapped firmly. She liked forge smithing better. Things worked; they made sense; they added up. There were still tradeoffs, but manageable ones. The heavier you made the armor, the slower its wearer. The more you extended the plates for protection the less flexibility the wearer had. Any articulation joint was necessary but provided a weak point. Spikes or blades could be built into the armor for added offense, but they could also get inadvertently stuck. Making the armor hard to remove kept grappling enemies at bay but also made the doctor's work harder because they would have to cut the metal off to get to the patient.  It also made repair and even getting into the suit harder. Still, it was something she could measure and access and see!

   Planning this was entirely different, there was no soldier for her to measure and nothing to concretely see! The more points of contact with the outside world, the more vulnerable the fortress would be, but ventilation (both air and smoke), access, water, and emergency escape were all valid concerns. Then of course, the humans needed to see the sun.... Every inch of space used for one thing was an inch that couldn't be used for another. Families would form and grow without any accurate way to predict final size, wanting to be near to their kin. Locations for meeting and recreation would be required. Storage and all the functions of life would need to occur!

   The sum total of the task was mind boggling and she was afraid of erring on some critical part of it. She had always been able to make the pieces fit and numbers add before, but this was done in the dark. Further, she had been thankfully wrong on two major occasions now: leaving the citadel and surviving the goblin pursuers. She was hardly complaining and was in part happy to be wrong. However, this proved her methods could be flawed and perhaps next time her error wouldn't end so fortunately. She doubted herself and her abilities. The weight of her responsibilities in light of her doubts was heavy on her.

   She had wandered the makeshift tent city they had commandeered from the goblins and took to the site of their future home. It would provide basic shelter for now, but it was impossibly inefficient. It took her a full 10 minutes to realize exactly which tent was Musrin's and another 3 to walk there. The row tent formation made no sense and created makeshift streets with odd, nonsensical angles. Some of the tents haphazardly clustered about one another forming vacant alleyways and empty wasted spaces while others were alone and needlessly away from the others. The entire setup was entirely unsecure, inefficient and unacceptable. Something needed to be done and quickly.

   She politely entered Musrin's tent after he bid her do so.  He propped himself up on a new, plain wooden table, a surprising gift from Coler. Surveys and maps from Devlin the human hunter made under Irua's protection were neatly organized and spread before his spread hands. The dwarf flipped through them methodically, noting the topography, the streams and lakes for leagues around. He calmly placed them back in order, stacked and offset from one another before looking up at Nera. She admitted to herself that she was impressed with his thoroughness.

   "Thank you for seeing me, Commander. I'd like to talk to you about something I've been thinking about for some time. As you know I was more of a forging craftsdwarf. My administrative and architectural training were secondary to that. While I understand, I may be the most qualified person here, I don't think I'm up to the task. I never asked to be the governor of this place and I don't know if I can. You've led us this far; I'd like you to assume authority so that I can focus on other...."

   "Why?" Musrin's answer efficiently cut through Nera's sentence. It asked for and received no justification and calmly demanded an answer.

   She paused, composing herself after a small gasp and before continuing, "You were right and I was wrong Commander. We did get out of the Citadel and away from the Goblins. I was convinced we couldn't. I didn't see how; you did. I had no plan and you made one that worked. Clearly I missed something and the next time I miss something it could be worse. Everything could go wrong and I'm not sure how we could anticipate or fix that. Every little detail matters in ways I can't know. Everything from defensive fortifications to access points to making the hospital large enough and the rooms free of drafts so the children don't get sick and the hospital isn't used.... I've never done this commander and I'm just not sure if I know how...." She looked down, not daring to meet his gaze, and thinking this was the second worst thing she could do to him, the worst being failing him in some unforeseen and catastrophic way.

   A moment stretched in silence and she felt his gaze slicing straight through her before he said, "That's exactly why it has to be you."

   She didn't understand and the look on her fact silently said as much as she swallowed and stared at him.

   "The Citadel fell, because no one thought like you do. The nobility didn't consider or care about the consequences of their choices. You do. They insisted they  were wise, which clearly meant they weren't. They would've never admitted there was anything they didn't know. You do.

   I'll help you any way I can. The first is in knowing I haven't been right. I've been lucky and not lucky enough for some of those corpses we buried. I tell myself it would've been worse if I did nothing and maybe it would've been. I can't know that though and I can't count on whatever luck I live by holding out next time. It isn't hard understanding I'm incomplete. I cannot be afraid to keep on living, nor can I be afraid to walk this world alone. I can count on failing spectacularly if I do nothing.

   You will never be perfect. No one is or will be. Your mind does things mine can't. You need to consider as much as you can to understand the problems we will face and face them as best you know how. No one else can like you can. You can't be afraid to keep on living, nor can you be afraid to walk this world. Any mistakes you do make, you'll be forgiven.

We do what we can with what we have where we are."

   Nothing else was said or needed to be. Nera simply nodded nicely and excused herself to leave. The lump in her throat had lessened somewhat but still remained. She admired him, but couldn't admit it, especially if he didn't admire her the same way. She thought some sounds silently to herself she could never speak awake and unafraid, or even asleep or dead. Her walk home was a somewhat of a blur though the thought of him and his words stuck in her mind during the walk and beyond. She would think of him.... She would remember him often.

   She found herself again in front of a blank parchment with nothing but charcoal in her hand. The blank emptiness was terrifying but somewhat less so than before. She had to fill that terrifying, blank emptiness with lines that would become stone, and though she knew how she did so slowly. Slowly, the walls of their refuge took shape on the page. It could never be perfect, but it could work, perhaps. There were problems with it, but she knew them, or if nothing else, enough of them. She fell asleep on the page and her face smeared the lines. No matter, she knew each and every one of them, painstakingly, in her mind. It would be redrawn in the morning when the sunlight filled the emptiness left long ago in the night by a dying flame's last dance upon a wick.

She did what she could with what she had where she was.

Perhaps it would be enough. Crowns are heavy things, the weight of which is only ignored by fools, but never for long....
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 01:08:08 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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   Coler woke up sometime around the crack of noon, roughly. He didn't exactly keep track of time, in any sense of the word to be honest. He had made new wagon floorboards for the ones he had kicked through long ago in his sleep and didn't seem to mind that they were slightly off color with the rest of the wagon's wood. It was simply a different type of tree. All the ones around this place were pine or some other coniferous type. Occasionally there might be an oak or a maple here and there, but the overwhelming majority of them were evergreens. There wasn't a willow for leagues around and the floor plank wouldn't be seen by anyone but him so it really didn't seem too terribly important and it wasn't.

   Surprisingly, there was a large pile of wood about two or three yards from his wagon very near the makeshift woodshop he had established. He had not put it there and this was obvious for two reasons. First, he simply hadn't cut a tree down in a couple days, and second, the wood was prepared all wrong. Humans had to have done this; no dwarf would've discarded the pine needles. Several bags  of them were stored nearby after being properly collected in the Dwarven fashion. Dwarven mattresses and cushions were filled with layered mixtures of feathers and wool for softness and resin treated pine needles to provide semi firmness. There was no other sensible way for a dwarf to do it. Ogdin, the dwarven tailor who came with them, would agree even if he was preoccupied with leather....

   All the same, these humans had tried in their own strange way and manner to be helpful somehow. Coler merely tried to keep his mind occupied and if nothing else this raw material would aid in that. Moreover, spending time alone in the wilderness gave him too much time to think. This way he could focus on his work such as he could. It provided a welcome distraction from the other thoughts in his mind, sometimes.... As long as the work was either undecorated or featured only geometric patterns, the thoughts stayed away.

   Coler looked over at the small pile of ashes that was the wooden plate he broke and burned last night. He had tried to engrave a scene into it, almost reflexively. He had done so a thousand times and thought he would do so a thousand more.... He had started to carve a relief into the plate's back (rather than its front so food wouldn't get stuck in it) and engraved from memory. This was his first mistake and while he created an engraving, it could hardly be called a "relief." He looked down at the nearly finished product and threw the carved demon engraving; it sailed into the side of the wagon and fractured. He managed to stop panting and aiming his crossbow at the thing and set the broken pieces on fire. The memories remained whether he liked it or not (he didn't) but that plate wouldn't exist anymore as anything other than ashes.

   He would not carve pictures, only patterns. Patterns never hurt anyone and they couldn't hurt him.... He would carve lattices, woven geometric designs, parallel lines or other patterns if he didn't leave his work plain. He would never explain why. He could seek comfort in the repetitive motions of a saw, chisel , smoothing resin, sanding away roughness, or his foot pumping the rotations of his lathe. He stopped making toys or figurines for the children and everyone reasoned it was because there were more essential things needed more. They were half right and didn't even realize how....

   He meandered over to the trees he had tapped for resin. It would serve him nicely, though he preferred to use a wax coating as well, that was a future concern. Presently, he had decided to create another set of wooden forks, spoons, and plates in their own box. The box lid fit expertly into a small track and slid off on wooden rollers once the wooden pins were lifted up.  Each set would've been considered a masterpiece and an heirloom by the humans who received them for free. It wasn't even his best work and he shuttered to think what he could do. He, or rather his thoughts, would limit him for some time to come.  There were other things to consider, and Coler was grateful for those other things.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 02:13:02 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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   It was a beautiful old doe, past childbearing years but not yet decrepit by any means. Her tracks told Fereth she walked with a slight limp in her gait though the elf knew it wouldn't significantly slow her at all. the tracks showed she could still gallop and did so when the large cat prints came near to her own. Clearly she had not been caught, because she stood grazing on a green leaf coated in delicious salt.

   The Fereth had gone ahead of the doe and placed that leaf exactly below where she waited now downwind and on the maple's branch. Several such salt coated green leaves led the doe to this exact spot below the elf. The doe had no chance. Fereth was downwind, baiting her, wearing armor with maple leaves attached to it, and about to fire from an elevated position as she had done countless times before. It was time to do it again.... Fereth whispered an apology and explanation that the arrow would be far quicker than the numerous wolf bites that would calm her otherwise....

   The elf whistled loudly, startling the doe into looking up for the sound. She found it and an arrow sailing down with the force of the bow, gravity, and the elf's aim, directly into her neck through her throat and to her lung. The deer screamed and Fereth gasped; she had barely missed the heart.... She never wanted it to hurt more than it had to and now her mistake meant it would. The elf felt inexcusably sloppy. She had tracked nearly every animal in this forest and chose this one because it had already bore offspring and no longer could. Her every effort had been towards responsibility and doing the least damage necessary. This was exactly what she had wanted least. She knocked another arrow knowing it would be even harder with a thrashing target.... She, through her mistake had caused this misery; she would end it.

   The doe tried to run but simply couldn't the way the arrow was positioned in her. Another bone arrowhead embedded itself  in her, and the elf was unable to end it instantly due to the thrashing. Still another found home and finally the doe suffered no longer.  Still, the fact that it happened at all was entirely unusual for Fereth. She wondered if she should've used a metal arrowhead or perhaps if she had somehow erred as she made her way down the tree trunk. Fereth would use the doe for several well tailored bags. Silvanus would carve her bones well and make several venison meals.

   "Your face tells me it was longer again this time...." Silvanus said somewhat sadly but devoid of blame. He was greeted with a simple nod from his mate and he expressed some concern for her over this. She had been unable to focus lately over something she could not or would not define. He could almost sense the woods knew as his wife did that something was amiss. Some weeks ago, there had been an earthshaking crash in the distance like none other the elves had felt. He wouldn't guess what the dwarves had done this time. They were usually fairly responsible and he had no quarrel with them. Perhaps he would ask the next time he visited them what scared every animal in the wilderness away from them so....

   She merely rested her head on his shoulder as they lay there against the tree staring up through the sky break up at the stars. Though other races would consider their treetop temporary hunting lodge far from temporary, it paled in comparison to their permanent home hidden deep in the boughs of an old willow and grown over the course of a century. Still, this was perhaps a day's ride from here and there was no reason to avoid sleeping under the stars tonight. Silvanus held Fereth softly as she shivered somewhat, though it was far from cold. He comforted her and could tell she and the animals felt something was amiss, though they could not know what.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 03:02:41 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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   He hated that archway and would've had it torn down long ago if he thought he could bear looking at the other goblins more than absolutely necessary. Thankfully, he only had to look at it with his one remaining eye. Fully a quarter of all this duplicity and fraud were entirely wasted by having a great big, unnecessary archway advertising exactly where your home warrens were. It allowed enemies to find you easier; which any sane (apparently meaning non goblin) thing would understand as self evidently bad. Even worse it would allow the goblins who were otherwise too stupid to find their way home to find their way home.... That defeated the entire hope of the stupid ones getting lost!

`   Thankfully, the dwarves had killed a good number of the stupid ones on that last ill advised excursion he was only now returning from. This fact was dangerously close to illustrating a use for dwarves while they were still alive by saving him the trouble. He didn't really want to kill the other goblins, not specifically anyhow.... Though he enjoyed killing them in the theoretical sense as well as the convenience sense, and for the record, every other sense. The idea of leaving them behind and using them as cannon fodder worked; he could get behind it. It was certainly no good being in front of it and that's exactly why he left them to die.

   He would tell the treacherous counsel elders exactly what he had told the fools he left to die, while exaggerating his own accomplishments in exterminating the "main force" of the dwarves to the east of camp, which no one would know never existed.  He hadn't "killed" the other goblins as such. He just left them in an unfavorable position they would probably die in while not expending the bare minimum effort required to save them. That's not murder; that's not murder at all. And besides anything he did was justified by  him wanting to do it.... All he was really doing was refusing to help morons and gaining political advantage by manipulating the circumstances of their death. That was practically defending them under goblin law....

   They somehow greeted him as a hero coming home victorious from a field campaign. Gods bless the lack of a goblin education system; they were actually fooled by this as he made his way through the entrance halls with its enumerable side tunnels. They streamed out of those tunnels to cheer him on, the fools. He wasn't sure if they just hadn't realized the overwhelming majority of the goblins he took with him didn't return or if they never would realize it. All the same, his procession made its way to the counsel warrens.

   The counsel held no real power except the mob listened  to them for some reason that escaped sane thought. He regaled them with uncontested lies about his valor against the overwhelming dwarven army that had appeared out of nothing and that he had sent back to nothing by force. Those under him knew to say absolutely nothing to contradict him. Even if they did the counsel was more likely to believe his lies than theirs. It wasn't that everything he did was as unnecessarily duplicitous as this, this was fairly straightforward. He hadn't even directly considered killing anyone recently, though that could change.

   "Excellent fable,' the old goblin said through old dull fangs after no one else appeared to be in the counsel cavern.
   "Fable?" was the slow response from the armored, one eyed goblin.
   "O excuse me, I should say tale of heroism.... Old age you see it makes you mistake all sorts of things for the truth.... It is interesting how none of your returning soldiers were injured in the least though.... All either dead and left behind or returning without a scratch.... Nothing in between...."
   "Mistakes can be costly...." The threat was barely veiled.
   "Yes they can be and I haven't lived this long among these morons by making many of them." The old goblin's demeanor was far too calm because he wasn't lying and the younger, one eyed, armored goblin knew it.
   "You'd better not make one now; you're overdue."
   The older goblin tisked the upstart, "That's such bad form really. Threatening me that openly first shows you're out of other options and so soon? I could say very little escapes me and you'd escape very little if the mistake ended up being yours. I could point out how I've successfully manipulated this horde for more winters than you've lived. I could point out how I've had many times the trolls and warriors  loyal to me as you've ever had, especially since most of yours are now dead. Except there'd really be no point would there? At least there isn't one I'm about to show you right now. I like that you're a thinker or are at least trying to be. I was thinking about telling you a few of those reasons but now I see you're not ready yet. Maybe later. I'll just watch you until then. O and this dwarf skull's eye sockets are broken; I don't want it. You do. I'm not saying anything... right now...."

   With that the old goblin handed the upstart his favorite skull, somehow retrieved from his throne on that field. There was no mistaking it; it belonged to the dwarf who took his eye. He had carved his name into the forehead on the bone. He stood still as he realized exactly what this meant; the old curmudgeon not only had someone watching him but someone good enough to get this out when he couldn't manage that himself while watching him unnoticed! It was hard to tell under those wrinkles but the old goblin might have chuckled before he walked away with his back facing the upstart. That was confidence, exposing himself turned away without seeming to care. 
   He stood there watching him walk away as he held the skull. It was his favorite. Otherwise he'd have considered throwing it aside in disgust, but the old curmudgeon knew he wouldn't, not with this skull.  What happened confused and infuriated him; one thing caused the other inside him. He made his way back to his warren knowing someone close to him was a damn spy, had told the old bastard everything, and was still doing it. He currently had no way to determine who it was, but he would have to devise one. If it weren't so dangerous to him, he might actually enjoy the challenge of fighting with a goblin with a brain. As things stood, taking the time for these things could be fatal.
   Clearly, he was going to have to give serious thought to killing or at least controlling this old codger who dared to figure out the truth. No one had the right to say he didn't kill an entire dwarf army in battle. Though his men did the fighting and dying he was in control of them. Though he didn't witness it, he was certain there had been a battle between a dwarven army and his forces. The point was that certain deeds were done and he was nearby enough to be responsible.
   This whole unpleasant turn of events would ruin the night with females he had been planning during the long march home. That old bastard was the last thing he wanted to contemplate. If he was half as competent as he appeared to be, he could potentially be a serious threat. Worse, he couldn't be what he was if he knew what he knew. Perhaps even worse still, knowing what he knew made him exactly what he was.  The thought of pitting his mind into a fair fight was the last thing he wanted at the moment. He liked the counsel far better when they were merely his mouthpiece to the masses....
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 11:19:55 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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   He sat alone looking straight ahead, with practiced military posture as straight as the line of polished brass buttons on his rather dark gray uniform overcoat. The long  wooden bench in the antechamber was plain and uncomfortable, probably both by design. The marble room's ceiling was held up by parallel lines of plain buttressed columns. It didn't seem to suit the decor of the other noble rooms in the capital, Steelholm. The noble didn't want those waiting to see him to be comfortable and enjoyed making them uncomfortably wait for the privilege he was all too willing to revoke with or without cause.

   Sitting still was exhausting, the shirt under his armor and overcoat uniform was limp with sweat.  Devin had been awakened late at night in his bed from a sound sleep by an officer, flanked by two fully armored dwarves with swords drawn. The only words spoken were, "Your Excellency Baron Skovin commands an audience for an urgent purpose at exactly dawn in his throne room. You will not be late...." It wasn't even a command; it was an open threat. They then left. He had not been able to sleep the entire night and was there outside the door in the morning before his Excellency's personal secretary arrived. She pointed towards the antechamber bench; this silently said to wait.

   Dawn came and went. He had lost all track of time and was beginning to be hungry but dared not move. He heard the outermost door open and close for his Excellency's  personal secretary to leave, he imagined for her meal. He heard the same when she returned sometime later. Some hours later, the Baron's throne room door opened and a pair of spear wielding guards emerged, they said the first words he had heard all day, "The Baron chooses to see you now." This was also not a statement but again a threat.

   He carefully but quickly stood with effort. He did not know how many hours he had sat in abject terror. His body reminded him the time had been a considerable one. He felt his shoulder blades drawn tight together, the curve of his neck trying far too hard to be natural, and the weight of the blood in his feet and hands. He felt the air around him and the hollow of his spine shiver as a drop of sweat beaded down from his trimly groomed hairline, which was neither brown nor blonde, but both.  He took each step and breath consciously intentionally; only thusly, he did not flee for his life....

   The Baron's throne room was more ornate than any temple, for it simply held a more valuable thing within which demanded greater faith and obedience. Everything was engraved and engraved again. If one examined  the main floor engraving arrangement closely, the lines of the larger engravings were themselves engraved with smaller engravings and the whole thing formed an artistic pattern in the shape of a crown. It was especially elaborate compared to the bare waiting room and that was the entire point....

   As Devin entered his throne room, the Baron wore an expression of one so certain of his success that he could afford a benevolent smile. He spoke with smooth, cheerful assurance. Devin thought it was the expression of a cardshark who had spent immeasurable effort memorizing every possible combination of the card draw pattern and possessed comfort in the knowledge that each and every card in the deck was marked.

    "Well, Private Devin," he said by way of far too cordial greeting, "I didn't know that even a hardened hand of nobility like myself could still get an enjoyment out of meeting one of my O so loyal soldiers but that's what I'm feeling currently in all honesty."

   The dwarf Baron smiled as Devin knelt, and dismissed this as a trivial gesture bidding him rise.... He then made a few remarks about the weather and how he so enjoyed the needles or leaves of evergreens, for they never faded even in winter. Devin said nothing. The Baron looked over at a map engraved into the marble of the room itself and commented idly on the tragedy of losing the Citadel of wonders, the strategic military value of the region, the economic gains lost when the Citadel perished. He let a small, brief frown come to his face when talking about the economic losses, but that look was quickly returned to the former one after that portion of the conversation had been made. Still Devin said nothing.

   He then spoke earnestly, but in a causal manner about some human tradition most dwarves thought was silly, as if they both understood that this was not the main reason for their meeting. He spoke in the form of an afterthought rather than questions as if the main reason had been settled ever so long ago beyond all certainty or thought of variance. The deck was quite stacked....

   Devin waited as this continued for some time and it appeared that the Baron would continue as Devin stood there until the Baron got tired. Devin waited until the first instance of the Baron asking his opinion or thought on a subject which came perhaps an hour into the discourse near dusk before saying, "Indeed your Majesty, if it pleases you, might I please be so honored as to inquire about the urgent purpose for which you bid your humble servants summon me to discuss?"

   The Baron looked if he were somehow considering something and yet blank for a moment, then said brightly as if some unimportant thing, which was barely worth any effort to remember came into his mind, "Oh, you mean that? That was concerning the group from the Citadel of Wonders who had formed a settlement after it fell. Namely, they have not reported to the Throne at all. We should like to have you go among them and detail all of their whereabouts, plans, identities, defenses ... that we may bypass them if they should needlessly become relevant. I believe you had a friend or two there...."

   Devin sat looking at the Baron silently for quite some time. With each and every passing moment the effect of the Baron's cordial intonations hung in the air from his voice. About the time the Baron was nearly certain Devin had lost the ability to respond, "Your Excellency, hasn't the sheriff given you my respectful reasons for declining this order due to a ...."

   "Why, yes, Private Devin, but --" Interrupted the Baron.

   "Surely your Excellency in his infinite mercy could never bring his fairest and most just heart to order a dwarf to do that when...." Devin was interrupted, exhausted and astonished. He knew he might face serious repercussions when he had declined an order, however respectfully, even if the Sheriff agreed, from the Baron.

   "That was some months ago, Private Devin. A certain event has occurred since, which makes me quite sure you have changed your mind and that you will make no trouble at all for the nobility, just as we will make no trouble for you?"

   "An event...? Your Excellency?"

   "Yes, an event a couple of them actually, which to use ... you have far greater and infinitely more intimate knowledge than anyone else. Except you see, some people do have knowledge of it and though you would prefer the opposite, many more people can know....

   Devin stood there silently at attention.

   "Since it is your secret, why don't we let it remain that way. Everyone has secrets. The reason behind the Citadel of Wonders is a secret. You realize, of course, that I could deal with those who fled from it by sending a battalion and you would not be able to prevent it. However, this would require making a lot of unseemly noise among the damn nobility." The Baron smiled earnestly, "Why yes, we're as popular with each other as we are among you common rabble. An entire battalion would require letting a lot of other nosy nobles in on the secret of the Citadel of Wonders and the population might become aware of things they shouldn't be, which would be highly undesirable at this or any time. If we were to put you on trial for refusing a direct order from the nobility, then again, the possibility of the Citadel's secret might become known.

   However, if we were to put on you trial for a much more serious crime which did not implicate the Citadel of Wonders and you could not raise any public sympathy or suspicion, well.... That wouldn't be the slightest inconvenience to us, but it would cost you a whole lot more than you'd ever want to pay. Thus, the only real practical hand for you to play is to get us to keep your secret while keeping ours. That first one should concern you quite a bit."

   Devin stood there for some time before saying very, very carefully, "What events?"

   "O come on Private Devin, don't act so foolish. Among other things; you killed a superior officer!"

   "Lieutenant Fateni had betrayed the crown, we intercepted the payment to him from...."

   The Baron Interrupted," You know that, I know that, no one else does."

   Devin stood silently, he glanced at the guards for sympathy and found none, though they had just heard the Baron acknowledge that he was innocent of any wrongdoing. They didn't care.

   The Baron continued, "Issues of ethics are such a nuisance.... Do you want to be a martyr for some cause no one will ever really know about. The bad thing about being a martyr is you have to die for your cause and to be an effective one, people have to know why you died. We'll make sure that you do the first one but you see that second one has no chance of happening. You won't be some hero who saved his majesty or his soldiers from betrayal, you will be the betrayer. You'll be some psychotic murderer, some stupid senseless dissident without a cause, reason or rhyme. You won't be a hero but you might think you are if you're stupid enough to fall for this cause and even then you'll be a hero without a public in obscurity. You'll accomplish nothing but a filled coffin if I bother to have one given to you. Even if I do, your name won't be inscribed on it; it will be as blank as anyone's recollection of you and you will be forgotten. Do you still care to be that kind of hero, that kind of martyr? That's exactly and only the choice you have to make on exactly this issue. Do this or you'll die in obscurity as exactly what you're not."

   The Baron smiled, "Actually, no, that would give you an honor too: forcing the crown to be seen as cruel. Maybe you won't die, but rather just sit in a cell forever. We'll convict you and then give you a partial pardon, canceling the execution but enforcing a lesser sentence of life imprisonment. O it will very much be the same thing, except you'll be forgotten in a larger box until you die and then a smaller box after.... I'm not sure which would be better for us, but that is the one I'll impose at the end of the trial while you wonder which it is. O yes, you won't know until I decide and believe me I can find a place for you and you will mind. It would be entirely impractical for you to let foolish feelings interfere with your life. Come see reality; you're not the type for foolish feelings are you?" All of it was said in a calm voice, not a single time was his voiced raised.

   The shock became numbness spreading through all parts of his body. There was a tight pressure his stomach, throat and chest. He did not wish to die, and though perhaps it was selfish he certainly did not wish to go to an unmarked grave directly or after a life sentence. He would be enough of a disgrace in the eyes of his family as it stood now without this, "No," he said through a shaking breath, "No, not any kind of foolish feelings...."

   The Baron smiled again, "Come now, don't act surprised. Don't you think I knew it?"

   "You're happy to hear it Your Excellency."

   "Shouldn't I be?"

   "After all, I am breaking your code of honor aren't I?"

   The Baron did not notice the look on Devin's face--that of a man devoid of hope and knowing he would die, instead of one relieved to be assured he would live, if only for the moment. The Baron was far too busy enjoying tormenting the animal he had caught in his trap and delivering still more needless blows to it, needless as all the others had been. "Why would I want that followed? There's nothing to hold over people who follow a code of honor. Those who breach it on the other hand.... Well, there's plenty of guilt to use from them...." He smiled happily at first until he saw the slightest traces of a smile barely peek forth from Devin's lips knowing full well it would be extinguished. The look the Baron was seeing on Devin's face was hopelessness and resignation bore with what little dignity remained within him.

   "You may discover, Your Excellency, a certain flaw in the addition of your plan when someone finds it less costly to die in the solitude of their own unscarred  mind, than to live with the shattered remains you leave them." Exactly 1 minute passed in silence, though it stretched and felt quite longer.

   The Baron snapped, "Are you stupid enough to think I'm bluffing? They told me you were smart enough to do this!" It was the first sign of a the cardsharp's breach of decorum and that he had perhaps missed marking a card in the otherwise marked deck.

   "I don't; I can't," responded Devin rather deflated .

   "Who the hell do you think you're fooling?" Demanded the Baron.

   "I don't know, just not myself is all. Do what you're going to anyhow Your Excellency.... It's perhaps more cruel to keep me alive like this."

   With that and an angry snap of the Baron's fingers two of the guards prodded their spear tips against Devin's back until he was behind the door of a cell. He didn't resist, and his hands were chained together. It wasn't at all that he was somehow better than to cry, but rather he had cried last night and was far past that point now.  His heavy shoulders weighed on him. He sat again as he asked himself why virtue always consisted of giving something up. The dwarf took no solace or even notice of his small victory over the baron and that would've never crossed his mind. He was convinced he would die soon and that occupied the entirety of his mental faculties. He sat and stared at the blank wall in front of him and imagined the blank coffin that would match it, which he might or might not get as the Baron decided. He fell over on the floor in defeat. He was in another waiting room, waiting to die....


***


   Meanwhile back in the Baron's throne room, "What on earth do you mean he won't do it?" Baron Gervinlion's words were part scream, part question and all astonishment.

   "He will, but we simply need to find the right encouragement," answered Baron Skovin who had just seen the young private come close to breaking. There was a certain satisfaction in his voice when he said the word 'encouragement' and no one could possibly mistake what he meant.

   "Well he'd better," insisted Gervinlion's infuriated voice, "I owe that bastard dog Musrin for my leg and I want him tied to a tree in the sun for a few hours before it happens!" He turned and pointed at the other baron as he said this and then resumed his limping pace while spouting, "Do you know he's calling himself a commander now? The arrogant little fraudulent puke of a captain...!"

   Baron Skovin knew Baron Gervinlion continued on about his various grievances against some Musrin fellow but couldn't care less in truth. He sat there hearing everything but never bothering to listen to the rest of it. Some insubordinate officer had stabbed a noble who wasn't him in the leg. An example could be set so no one else who mattered got stabbed. The real concern was what this insubordinate officer and those around him knew about the Citadel of Wonders. Gervinlion was a pawn in his plan and easily expendable; the secret and keeping the military in line were key pieces not to be lost.
        Skovin couldn't quite help but hate Gervinlion; when he talked, at very considerable length, there was a purpose to it. He didn't care to be sure, but it seemed more than likely Gervinlion was merely idly complaining.  Besides, something far more important had arrived for him to deal with, evening tea!


***


   Several days, perhaps a week, perhaps two had passed since Devin had first entered this cell; he wondered if he should keep track of the meals they were feeding him for timekeeping or if that was pointless. He wasn't paying attention, so it surprised him when the door to his cell swung open. He feared the end, but stood to face it. That much he could do if this was it and if nothing else. A female officer, a major, stepped through the door as an armored guard opened it for him. It was Major Heti, whom he had known before  and served under previously. At first he almost reflexively saluted her, but the chains about his hands reminded him that wouldn't be quite possible. "I don't suppose you're here to help me Major?" He asked with a shred of reserved hope.

   "No." said the major with a kind smile on her face. She wore a look suggesting that she had every reason to smile and little patience to deal with whatever he may say. She would skip to the point. "You will arrive at the new settlement started by the survivors of the Citadel of Wonders after a journey you will leave for tomorrow," she said shrugging off any hint of uncertainty as if the matter were already decided, though she paused suggesting an answer would be appropriate. 

   There was silence from Devin. There was no way she could know enough to make that statement and come to his cell without knowing of his previous refusal upon promised pain of death. "Major, if you are here on the Baron's behalf; you wouldn't have come, unless you had something worse than death to threaten me with."

   Without a word, she produced several signed testimonial affidavits and fanned them out in front of Devin. They were from various dwarves of numerous professions. Each affidavit amounted to proving a relationship Devin had entered into with another dwarf who was in some affidavits male and in others appeared to be wearing female clothing and fulfilling the role of one.

   "You know, naturally, but maybe you'd like to see that we know exactly who and what the lover you hide is."

   Devin's face was blank, unreadable expressionless. He had thought they had been more careful than this. He didn't read a single one, because he knew or could imagine exactly what they said, though seeing them fanned out before him as evidence of a crime he had committed gave him a new prospective on their meaning.

   "This isn't the only evidence, "said the Major, "there's the star sapphire necklace you had commissioned and the jeweler's records for that, the other sworn statement affidavits  you wouldn't care to see because they wouldn't show you anything you don't know. They'd show where you spent your time and your nights if you read them. Then of course you've never quite had a romantic encounter with a woman have you...?Try not to blame the people who gave you up, in times like ours people are afraid to say what they want to and when questioned fear to remain silent.

   Of course, there's nothing in this blackmail to harm you personally half so much as it will harm your lover. The Baron found out that no threat made directly to you would work to make you cave in. It will, however, harm your lover significantly."

   Devin looked directly at the memory of him as he stared in her direction, now, still, silent.

   "I assure you, this unnatural, sinful affair of yours could be spread from one end of the world to the other, and we know exactly how to do that to do the most damage. While some damage will come to your reputation, it won't be nearly so much as what's endured by your lover. I understand, and there really isn't a good term for your form of sin but nonetheless, that you were the 'man' in the relationship and he was the 'woman,' right." It was not a question, not really. "I do so wonder what his parents will think of their son when they find out. I wonder how his relatives will react. How will the people he works with look at it? What will it do to him with his spotless name, his reputation for being above sordid things, his being --well judging by some of these affidavits--rather feminine in a masculine profession and world, What will it do to him and what will everyone who looks at him and who he tries to deal with think of him. You might get a curious or occasionally scornful look, everyone might think you're overly lustful, or any number of other things, but what they'll think about that lover of yours well.... I'll leave that up to your capable imagination."

   The major was astonished he only gulped once before saying calmly, though with a dry voice from imprisonment, "For your plan to work, I have to really care about him, think he's worth protecting, and would have to consider this a serious relationship instead of a causal affair...?"

   "Yes," her answer was simple; it seemed harmless enough to give him this.

   "If we were the kind of scum you're saying we are, none of this would work?"

   "Does that matter?" This was the best answer Devin could hope for.

   With a single nod, he agreed to the Baron's demand. However, he held up one of the sworn statement affidavits to her and merely stared at her blankly while grasping the full meaning. The affidavit was signed 'Major Heti Astarim, Crowned Shields, 2nd battlegroup." Under that was a notation, "Commanding Officer of Suspect  A.'

   She ignored this and tossed him a junior officer's uniform from her evidence satchel before unlocking the chains on his hands, "Congratulations... Lieutenant Devin...." A great many thoughts entered his mind with a speed that nearly overwhelmed him, but somehow did not. He could not afford to show the emotions they caused at present. He had secretly wondered if there were any words he could say that would persuade the nobility their actions were misguided. An inner blow struck him, giving him the answer. He clutched the uniform, reluctantly. He would be leaving tomorrow.

It's not necessary to shed tears; a person can still cry without them, especially in response to pure malicious evil....
« Last Edit: August 28, 2011, 10:23:55 am by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Truean

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[Author's Note:
Paragraph Indentation:
It seems this site's formatting is making it difficult for me to show tabs as indents when I copy and paste from Microsoft Word. Rather than showing as regular sized indents for paragraphs, it shows smaller ones.

This is a problem given that traditionally, when you start a new paragraph in a book with a new set of quotes in the right way, that means a different person is speaking. This is important in determining when Baron Skovin is talking and when Devin is talking.

Suggestions would be appreciated if you'd be willing to give them. Does this issue bother you? If so, is there a fix?]
« Last Edit: August 10, 2011, 07:18:38 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.

Nivim

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[ It's not an issue that I even noticed; as long as you keep your end-quotes in order, indentation shouldn't need to be involved with it.
 Why are we typing in brackets all of sudden?]
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Imagine a cool peice of sky-blue and milk-white marble about 3cm by 2cm and by 0.5cm, containing a tiny 2mm malacolite crystal. Now imagine the miles of metamorphic rock it's embedded in that no pick or chisel will ever touch. Then, imagine that those miles will melt back into their mantle long before any telescope even refracts an image of their planet. The watchers will be so excited to have that image too.

Truean

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Re: A decent story, not a community game. Savedashes (Warning, a little Dark)
« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2011, 06:59:30 pm »

[Honestly because brackets are a way I like to type notes at work to separate them from the product. It keeps things separated easier.

Sorry I haven't been posting, but as this is a spare time project and I have none, that's problematic. I have been working on it though and I thought it might be nice to show a small piece of my process. Before anyone says anything, yes, I am overly OCD about things, but I find it generates good content when I can do it. I'm hoping to post an update within the next week. And, as long as my cases at work don't go haywire more haywire than usual, I will.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
]
« Last Edit: September 18, 2011, 07:06:38 pm by Truean »
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The kinda human wreckage that you love

Current Spare Time Fiction Project: (C) 2010 http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=63660.0
Disclaimer: I never take cases online for ethical reasons. If you require an attorney; you need to find one licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. Never take anything online as legal advice, because each case is different and one size does not fit all. Wants nothing at all to do with law.

Please don't quote me.
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