RiaR May: Ancient Wonder

The Bolthole's monthly 1,000 word story competition.

RiaR May: Ancient Wonder

Postby J D Dunsany » Sun May 08, 2011 12:54 pm

The May Read in a Rush competition is now open. Guidelines are as follows:

To enter the competition, you must write a short story of between 850 and 1150 words in length addressing in some way the prompt word or phrase announced at the start of the competition. In this case, it's Ancient Wonder. Entries set in any of BL's universes are perfectly acceptable (40K, Horus Heresy, WHF, Blood Bowl etc).

You should post your entries on or before the deadline of 2100GMT on Saturday 21st May. There is no limit to the amount of entries you can post, but, in a break from the previous board's practice (and in acknowledgement of longsuffering readers who have been faced with a veritable mountain of stories to get through), only one may be submitted for voting. If you've only posted one entry in the two-week posting period, then you don't need to do anything. Your entry will be automatically submitted for voting. If you've written more than one entry, you will need to PM me with the title of your chosen entry. The full list of entries (and probably the entries themselves) will be posted at the start of the voting thread when it appears. You will be given a full week to make your decision about which story to put forward. If you do not manage to PM me before that time, then I will put your first story into the voting thread.

If you've got any further questions, feel free to PM me or, alternatively, post them on the RiaR suggestion thread here.

Get writing and good luck! :D

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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Sun May 08, 2011 1:37 pm

Title excluded, the word count is one thousand, one hundred and forty-eight (1148) words.

The Crypt and the Carrion


There is only darkness, ominous, all consuming, and without end.

There is no light. It is anathema, forbidden and denied existence, the darkness the one and only ruling force.

Littered unseen on the floor, the bones of dead creatures that came long ago seeking this place’s greatest treasure are all that remains to show of their attempts.

Crushed under foot into powdered dust, another Crypt-wanderer traverses the unseen path of Twilight as he treads on the remains of those who came before.

Men, daemons, and beings with no tongues to call them by their real names have all tried their lot, and found themselves wanting, but none had the eyes or the unbridled attraction the newcomer had to Chaos Undivided.

Naked and without armour or weapons, the top knotted warrior pressed on, his enhanced eyes piercing the gloom with ease, but his sight, for all its enhancement, could only see a few feet ahead at best.

Walking along he stops, the ledge he was about to walk off coming short of where he stood. Cold air rushed up from below and blew against him. They were attacking.

Thrown the warrior crashed onto his back, skidding along the cold rough surface as he ploughed into masses of bones by the fury of the wind.

Tumbling over a ledge his hand sprang out, fingers clasping hard onto the ledge as he hung over the unseen chasm below. The gale attacked him once more from below, but he held fast, snarling with anger as he pulled himself up onto the walkway.

‘You failed!’ he roared into the darkness ‘no one will stop me!’

In reply the wind died. Reverberated throughout the Crypt, a deep and cruel laughter boomed loudly. ‘We shall see Ezekyle, we shall see…’

Flailing out of the gloom, a tentacle lunged at him. Rolling forward and back onto his feet in one swift motion, he dodged the attack, a sword now held in his hand as he shook off the rotten claw still clutching it.

Hacking and slashing the tentacle became severed; with geysers of blood pumping out in aerial loops from its grievous wounds. Leaving, more came.

‘Enough!’

Disappearing, the world exploded, the tentacles falling into dust as the ground collapsed beneath. He was free falling without end.

Like waking from a deep sleep, he looked around his new surroundings, no longer falling into an endless abyss.

He was inside a cave, snow drifting inward past the jaws of the cave’s entrance.

‘Enough dallying!’ he roared, his voice a force onto its own as snow flakes and icicles fell from the ceiling, raining down.

‘I am the Warmaster of the Black Legion; the prodigy son of Horus. You will give me what I come for.’

‘Warmaster you may be, Abaddon’ said a distant voice ‘but you have yet to appease…’

‘Appease? I appease no one!’

Turning Abaddon looked out of the cave’s maw ‘I have shed the blood of billions, have scotched thousands of worlds, and my name brings terror to all those who utter. I am the carrion that circles over the dying carcass of the Imperium,’

Exploding for a second time, the world collapsed and reinvented itself once more.

Abaddon regarded his new surroundings, its place as familiar to him than any other.

The bridge of the Vengeful Spirit was a husk of its once mighty self, with ruined command consoles and corpses strewn across it’s the floor.

The destruction was like a trail marker, the intensity getting steadily worst as it led to the command podium at the back. A throne lay broken on its side.

Walking to the podium, a mist materialised in front of Abandon. Glowing and swirling where it was, a shadow grew within as a person appeared in it.

She was young, extremely small in comparison to Abaddon. Her hair was twisted and top knotted like his. She had a savage scar across her right eye.

When her violet coloured eyes opened, he recognised them immediately.

‘Mother,’

‘Ezekyle… ’ she muttered.

The two stared at each other in silence, Abaddon unmoving. Looking to the ceiling Abaddon said ‘more parlour tricks?’

Returning his sight to his birth-mother, Abaddon fist smashed into the side of her cranium, her body flailing to the floor as it turned back into mist.

‘Is this supposed to stop me?’

Reforming, the mist changed again, but this time, a small boy no bigger than Abaddon’s knee appeared.

‘Brother…’ the child said with outstretch hands.

Snarling with anger, Abaddon stomped on the child’s head, it disappearing before impact. Heading for the podium, the mist flooded past Abaddon’s marching legs as it appeared midway up the steps.

Encased in gold armour and wearing green laurels upon his head like a crown, the Emperor stood majestically before the approaching Warmaster.

‘Why do you betray me, my son?’ the Emperor asked ‘you were my most loyal subject, and you destroy my works?’

Advancing Abaddon reached out and grabbed the Emperor by the throat, his hands constricting round it as he roared.

‘Why do you betray me, you who I have served with the utmost loyalty, and yet spit on it with such disregard?’

‘Die!’

His head hanging in his hands, the Emperor’s eyes rolled back into His skull as He dangled from Abaddon’s embrace, neck broken.

Laughing with malice and joy upon his lips, Abaddon’s humours turned sour when he saw the Emperor’s corpse dissolve back into mist.

‘You taunt and jest at me from the shadows cowards.’

Appearing at the top of the podium, the mist solidified and became whole. A warrior bereft of hair on his scalp tumbled to the ground, sinking to his knees. Wounds lacerated his skin, and with lolling eyes he looked at Abaddon as he towered over him. A husk of what he was, his features were gaunt and sunken, the shadows under his eyes more predominant.

With a gentle hand, Abaddon caressed the side of his cheeks. ‘Father…’ he said. Eyes locking for a brief moment, the stoic, calm features on Abaddon’s face instantly turned to blind fury and hate, and with his hand, snapped Horus’s head from out of place.

‘Enough, these trials grow tiresome!’

‘Awaken…’

Eyelids splitting open for what felt like the first time in his life, the weight of reality reasserted itself.

He was standing, encased within the sanctity of his terminator armour. His arm was stretched out in front of him, his hand open to grab.

Exuding a purple halo, a huge barbed sword hung in the air before him. Wreathing in interchanging colours, the sword changed from red to blue then back again, with leering faces yawning within its blade.

Drach'nyen,’ Abaddon pronounced with a smile upon his lips ‘the ancient wonder of chaos…’

Reaching up Abaddon’s hand clasped around the weapon’s handle, the daemonic essence within stirring as it touched its new master.
Last edited by Stuart000X on Wed May 11, 2011 1:20 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Commander Shadow » Sun May 08, 2011 2:58 pm

i was momentarity confused as to where RIAR had gone... then i noticed the little sub forum!

I'll give your a read in a sec Stu, gotta do some writing
- And there arose from the abyss a terrible beast and the armies of man were laid low by the walls of the ancient city. The ground shook and the skies trembled and all knew as the beast had come forth and that the end of time was upon them.

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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Jelboy » Mon May 09, 2011 7:56 am

And so Stuart is the Pathfinder this month! The treader of virgin snow RIAR story topic.

i wonder how early submission of story compares to late entry of story in terms of creativity, success, etc? Perhaps there is no pattern to such things, nothing but a swirling chaotic whirl of probabilities... :ugeek:
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Mon May 09, 2011 8:56 am

Jelboy wrote:And so Stuart is the Pathfinder this month! The treader of virgin snow RIAR story topic.

i wonder how early submission of story compares to late entry of story in terms of creativity, success, etc? Perhaps there is no pattern to such things, nothing but a swirling chaotic whirl of probabilities... :ugeek:


I have no idea what any of that means, but it sounds good :D
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Mon May 09, 2011 8:05 pm

Stuart000X (The Crypt and the Carrion): I always did wonder how Abaddon came by his weirdly-named sword and this story is a great take on it. It's marred by a few jumps between tenses at the beginning, and could really benefit from a read-through to catch the errors. The title is awesome, by the way. :D
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Atlantic » Tue May 10, 2011 7:40 pm

Gold Lust (1079 Words)

Halek Hurginsson cleared the last of the rubble away. Amber radiance filled the tunnel and he squinted at the suddenness of its arrival. Beads of sweat coalesced across the dwarf’s forehead as the temperature in the tunnel built. Halek broke the silence of the moment with a rumbling cackle and moved to enter the chamber beyond.

He pulled up short and glared at the broad fingers gripping his belt. ‘Unhand me Ironhelm. I’ve a place in the sagas waiting me.’

Nord Ironhelm’s silver eyebrows rose at the arrogance of his cousin’s words. ‘The sagas of the Dawi rarely tell tales of glory that do not involve bloodshed.’

Halek scowled at Nord. ‘This again? I thought you were made of sterner stone Ironhelm.’ He gripped his black beard in frustration. ‘There may be more gold in the hoard than in all of Karak Hirn!’

‘You’ve done well to locate the resting place of the dragon cousin. None will fault your determination…do not give them reason to doubt your judgment.’

Halek pulled free of Nord’s grasp. ‘No more caution! Grimnir’s beard Nord! The hoard of Cinder-Maw waits. We will go to the halls of our ancestors in glory and wealth!’

Ironhelm grimaced at his cousin’s tone when he spoke of wealth. The light of gold madness lurked in his eyes. ‘Onward Halek, but pray we do not take the slayer’s oath for want of gold.’

Halek snorted and turned back toward the tunnel. He knew his destiny called him. Lowering his head he slid between the narrow walls of the tunnel and crawled through.

The tunnel opened onto a narrow ledge of stone that overlooked the fiery heart of the mountain. Falls of magma fell from between massive rock formations as terrible as the teeth of an ogre lost in the madness of the great maw. The temperature within the chamber was intense, so much so that the heat of the tunnel seemed a fond memory by comparison.

Halek’s eyes lit upon seams of Iron and Copper in the rock around him. His sense of opportunism swelled as he considered the additional wealth the ore would bring him. He would be remembered both as the dwarf who erased Cinder-Maw from the great Book of Grudges and for perhaps the richest source of ore found in a century.

‘Cousin’ Nord whispered.

‘Why do you whisper Ironhelm?’ Halek boomed with excitement.

‘Cousin’ Nord whispered again and took hold of Halek’s arm. ‘Look! The dragon lives! We must not wake the dragon!’

‘No’ Halek breathed. ‘The creature has not been seen for eight centuries. It cannot still live.’

As if the gods mocked him, Halek cringed as the great beast shifted its scaly bulk as it slumbered. Cinder-Maw was a leviathan of red scales curled around a massive stalagmite in the center of the chamber. The beast’s massive form slept on a bed of gold masterpieces and gem stoned treasures made by dwarf smiths of old.

Halek’s face reddened at the sight of the legacy of his ancestors embedded between the dragon’s scales. The gold belonged to him! He would restore Karaz Hirn to glory for the clan! No elf wrought serpent would steal his gold. Set upon his course, he took a step toward the edge of the shelf and a stalagmite he could use to climb down to the dragon.

‘Cousin!’ Nord hissed. ‘We must leave! Seal the hole and gather the clan. Do not wake the beast!’

‘No! I will not return without proof. Too long have I waited this day to return with nothing!’

‘Proof?’ Ironhelm snorted. ‘Since when does a dwarf require proof beyond his word?’

‘Gold in hand is greater than gold in the coming!’ Halek roared back.

Halek slipped free of Ironhelm’s grasp and removed a coil of rope from his pack. ‘The dragon has slept for centuries’ he said between hammer strikes as he secured the line to the stalagmite using pitons. ‘It will take more than two dwarfs to disturb it.’

‘Even one as loud as your clumsy arse?’

Halek snorted. ‘Cousin, the gold is waiting.’

Nord grinned in spite of himself as he grabbed on to the line. Deep in his heart he knew they were wrong to risk waking the dragon, but he felt his willpower slipping the longer he stood in the presence of the hoard.

The two dwarfs rappelled down the line with the technical skill of experienced climbers. Unhooking themselves from the line, they moved toward the dragon tentatively as though a stray sound would wake the beast. Nord’s eyes locked on to the great serpent and he stared in open mouthed wonder. He figured the beast to be at least one hundred yards long were it uncurled from the stalagmite. Teeth the length of men gaped out of the creature’s mouth. Its scales were like shields and the dragon’s stench overwhelmed him with the scent of brimstone.

The light of gold lust faded from Ironhelm’s eyes as he stared in wonder at the dragon. This great beast was a relic of the War of the Beard and the perfidy of the elves. To see it before him still strong and vital was humbling. At more than three centuries of age, he was not to be awed like a beardling striking his first seem of pure ore, but the terrible majesty of Cinder-Maw was an over powering sensation.

‘Halek!’ he hissed. ‘This is wrong! You must not!’

Halek ignored Nord’s plea and lifted up an ancient rune encrusted axe from the glittering refuse of the cavern. ‘The ancestors smile upon us this day Ironhelm! The rune-smiths will celebrate the return of this weapon! We will raise the clan and slay the beast!’

A shadow fell over Halek as Cinder-Maw lifted his head from the ground. Oblivious to the beast above him, Nord watched helplessly as his cousin gathered up gold coins and gemstones from the floor of the chamber. He stared into the burning intensity of the dragon’s gaze and felt his heart race as its mouth opened.

In that moment, all the wonder Nord Ironhelm felt at the majesty of Cinder-Maw became a terrible sense of despair. Ancient wonder warred with the dreadful guilt he felt at their foolishness. They had damned themselves and awakened a terrible foe of Karaz Hirn. He prayed to the ancestors that the beast would not find his Thane and people unaware.

Flame pooled from the dragon’s mouth and Nord Ironhelm met his ancestors.
Last edited by Atlantic on Wed May 11, 2011 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Phalanx » Tue May 10, 2011 10:55 pm

Even In Death
(1,147 words)


The muffled sound of explosions made its way in through the reverberating construct of the transport. Dull thumps echoed as near-misses glanced from the armoured hull, shaking the vehicle as if a Greater Daemon of Khorne had grabbed it and played with it like a rattle.

‘Sixty seconds,’ blared the vox.

Brother Lascar checked his weaponry, cycling the assault cannon’s barrels at high speed, which created an eerie whining echo as they spun. His other hand clenched and relaxed repeatedly, flexing the fingers of his power-fist. The mounted storm-bolter powered up, cycling bolts into the firing chamber. He was ready.

Closing his eyes once more, he let the harness hold his body in place as the transport bucked and weaved. Reciting the Litany of Hatred, he prepared himself to face the xenos threat head on. He had done this for longer than he could remember; longer than most could remember.

There was no fear, of course. He was a Space Marine. However, no worry or trepidation of any kind entered his mind. Thousands of combat insertions on thousands of imperial and alien worlds had seen any kind of anxiety or cautiousness disappear. He was unstoppable; the Emperor’s Will made manifest. His lips moved in a silent pattern, repeating noiselessly the litany as he recited it in his head.

‘Forty seconds,’ said the vox, interrupting the Space Marine’s prayers.

Lascar opened his eyes once more. Checking his targeting reticule, he tested the lock-on system on various parts of the interior, picking out the rivets and bolts in the construction of the vehicle. A slight flicker on the heads-up display caused the lock-on to break. Lascar muttered an Oath of the Machine, recalibrating the system and bringing it back online once more. Rechecking the locks, he tried the same pattern again, this time rewarded with a rock solid, steady lock symbol.

‘Thirty seconds,’ the voice cut in again.

The veteran Space Marine relaxed. Thinking back through his previous engagements, he felt a sense of nostalgia, thinking back to the days of being led into battle by his sergeant, infiltrating enemy lines and sowing the seeds of chaos before the main force hit as a Tenth Company scout. Sergeant Glemion had always been a taciturn and blunt leader, and that suited Lascar’s style of battle entirely. He wasn’t made for sneaking around. He preferred the feel of a combat shotgun in his hands, and once he had become a fully-fledged Space Marine, he quickly made inroads towards assault specialist.

‘Twenty seconds,’ chimed the vox, regular as clockwork.

As a member of Assault Squad Invictor, Lascar had made a great impression in Sixth Company, excelling in the use of chainsword and bolt pistol. His sergeant had picked him out within less than two years to become combat squad leader, the sergeant’s second in command.

From here, the Space Marine had continued his path upwards, being given the honour of receiving a plasma pistol from his company captain, before being promoted after several long, gruelling campaigns across the breadth and width of the imperium and beyond.

His sense of pride swelled as Lascar thought back to the moment he was promoted. Captain Antilles had given him a power sword in honour of his tireless, unflinching work against the enemies of mankind. Lascar had never felt so proud; at least, not until his next step on the combat career ladder.

‘Fifteen,’ droned the vox, garbled slightly as another near-miss rocked the transport.

Continuing his retrospective, Lascar thought back to his ascension to the vaunted First Company. Due to his speciality in close combat, he was immediately placed into Vanguard Squad Victrix, one of the most revered and honoured squads of first company. Having taken the place of Brother Relius, Lascar had been entrusted with the most revered item in the squad’s possession: the Relic Blade of Antilles.

At that moment, Lascar could not help but grin. The unfamiliar expression after so many years of grim, resolute combat caused the skin of his face to split slightly, and he immediately suppressed the muscles, relaxing them once more. This did nothing to diminish his thoughts, and he relived his first moment in battle carrying the blade.

‘Ten seconds. Prepare for deployment,’ the vox buzzed, interference growing stronger as the seconds passed.

Lascar shrugged his shoulders reflexively, remembering how he used to prepare for combat alongside his Vanguard brothers. In response, the massive armour he wore lifted up slightly; the servos struggling to replicate his impulse thoughts.

He thought back to the fight against the daemon M’tchar. That had been his ultimate fight. Marneus Calgar, Lord of Macragge, had led the first company during the invasion, and Lascar had been shoulder-to-shoulder with Sergeant Victrix and Lord Calgar himself, smiting the forces of Chaos with every word, every swing, and every ounce of his being.

‘Five. Commencing dispersion cycle. Stand clear of the doors,’ came the monotone vox.

Lascar winced as he recalled the final moment, reflexively trying to reach down to his stomach as he did so, straining the harness to breaking point. He had been fighting next to Lord Calgar, working their way through to the daemon-lord. Calgar had bellowed a challenge to M’tchar; one that the daemon duly accepted. The two had met in the centre of the field, charging into battle with the same force of a pair of titans looking to rend each other limb from limb.

Lascar had been behind his lord, keeping his flank secure when he had come face-to-face with a trio of Daemonettes of Slaanesh. The ensuing combat saw Lascar mortally wounded as he heroically held the three vile daemons away long enough for Marneus Calgar to banish M’tchar back to the warp. With a final swing, Lascar speared downwards, beheading the last daemonette, before sinking to the floor. His relic blade stood proudly in the dirt, refusing to fall.

Calgar had called his own apothecary over, who had held Lascar back from death, albeit with one difference.

‘One. May the God-Emperor grant you strength.’

The marine braced himself. With an impact that felt like he had just been hit by a titan, the transport stopped. An instant later, the explosive bolts securing the doors blew, and the drop-pod opened like the petals of a Catachan Spiker, the built-in Deathwind launcher mimicking the deathworld plant to the letter.

Lascar pushed power to his legs from the humming power-plant on his back. With a roar of hatred, he stormed down the access ramp, levelling his assault cannon and opening fire on the hordes of genestealers that came rushing at him. ‘For the Emperor!’ bellowed the ancient wonder of the Ultramarines, blue armour shining like a beacon as other drop-pods landed, disgorging the rest of the First Company. Taking not one step backwards, he tore the oncoming xenos apart with bolter and assault cannon. ‘I have come to destroy you.’
Last edited by Phalanx on Thu May 19, 2011 8:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Wed May 11, 2011 9:00 am

Atlantic (Gold Lust): I loves me a good dragon story, and you told this very well indeed. I'm pretty sure in the first paragraph you meant "amber" radiance not umber though.

Phalanx (Even In Death): I'm slightly confused, I assume that Lascar has been interred in a Dreadnought? Or am I misreading it? Regardless, it's a very good piece and I can't see anything wrong with it.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Phalanx » Wed May 11, 2011 9:01 am

Tyrant wrote:Phalanx (Even In Death): I'm slightly confused, I assume that Lascar has been interred in a Dreadnought? Or am I misreading it? Regardless, it's a very good piece and I can't see anything wrong with it.


You're not misreading. That's correct. I didn't want to state it directly, so I dropped hints throughout the story. That, and a bit of misdirection ;)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Wed May 11, 2011 10:57 pm

@ Atlantic

Gold Lust

Enjoyable, well written, and well rounded, this story has all the elements to make a good story and it pulls it off. Two characters with flaws and strengths, they are as believeable as we follow them through their journey and fated conclusion. A good story all things said and done, well done :)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Raziel4707 » Thu May 12, 2011 12:23 pm

Here be dragons, WHF, 1148

Stale air passed over parched lips, the breeze of awakening causing the tattered ends of bandages to flutter.

Though the stooped creatures before it were inwardly rejoicing to see their lord return from his slumber, it was a celebration marred by fear. The raiders had grown bold of late, massing an armada that came bearing many men onboard ships made from wood as black as night. But to awaken their lord unnecessarily was to invoke the wrath of one whose power dwarfed all others, and as such it was not a decision that had been taken lightly.

The messengers dropped to their knees as the ancient one's power swelled, twisting reality with a wave of force that threatened to drive even the massive forms of the temple guards from their feet. The many hundreds of banners that filled the shrine billowed as the ethereal wind gusted around them, disturbing dust that had settle there before the race of men had learned even to quarry stone.

Then, with an unpleasant scraping sound that set the teeth of the messengers on edge, their master slowly opened its desiccated eyes.

+Croak+

Bowing low until the tips of their snouts touched the ground, the two skinks removed their headdresses and placed them at their master’s feet, the many jewels and pieces of fruit within sparkling as they caught the sun. With dry skin and bandages rustling like old parchment, Lord Adohi-Tenga shifted slightly in his throne to gaze upon the offering, reaching out with his mind to touch them in a far more profound sense than could be achieved with his gnarled fingers.

+Croak+

A faint breeze caught the offerings and they disintegrated, reduced to clouds of vapour that flowed upwards and into Adohi-Tenga’s mouth as he inhaled.

The two skinks backed quickly out of the throne room, not rising until they were beyond the sight of their venerated leader. Once they emerged into the sunlight they stood and looked up at the sauran temple guard and chirruped, before turning and dashing back down the stepped pyramid.

The offering had been accepted.

-x-

To the east, the sands of Lustria were churning beneath the feet of men. There were five great ships in the shallows; flat bottomed affairs designed for coastal raiding that could head some way up river if needs be, their timbers blackened and featureless to aid in their night-time acts of piracy. They brought men of fortune lured by promises of treasure, entire hillsides filled with gold and jewels belonging to some long-dead ruler, lost aeons ago to the jungle. There was, of course, a legend that went with the tale; one of dragons who lived only to protect the horde and the corpse of their master, and who would flay alive any who dared trespass upon his domain. But such stories were for infants. Even the dragons of the elves were near impossible to rouse anymore.

“Fix that mooring line, and hurry up about it! If my ship floats away I’ll have your skin for a hat!”

The crew cast occasional glances at the leather tricorn that nestled upon Captain Henner’s brow. Many had said that it was just animal hide and that his threats were empty, but all such a threat needed to work was that faintest glimmer of doubt, and so none had yet called the captain’s bluff.

Soon there were five hundred men on the sands, an army bigger than any the captain had brought together before, their resolve and fraternity galvanised by the enormity of the treasure. It was common for a captain to take the lion’s share, but this time the point was moot. If the treasure was even a tenth of the size that the legend promised, even the merest fraction of the loot equated to more than any of them could ever hope to spend.

“I want the spell casters at the front!” Henner bawled, indicating the twenty dark-robed sorcerer’s he had variously persuaded to accompany the expedition. “If the treasure is protected, we’ll make them wish they’d abandoned this place long ago.”

“Captain!” one of the men cried, pointing towards the shadowy depths of the jungle. “The trees!”

Henner followed the man’s arm and saw the leafy canopy shifting, as if a small force of men were approaching.

“Sorcerors,” he chuckled. “Earn your keep.”

As one they gathered their power in the form of fireballs or bolts of electricity and hurled them at the jungle, felling dozens of trees, keen to make anyone in their path think twice. Soon a clearing appeared, smoking and crackling as the sap-rich trees burst, filling the air with the scent of burning wood. As a breeze picked up the smoke cleared, revealing a circle of pulped jungle surrounding what at first they took to be a statue, until the enormous shapes to either side of it moved.

+Croak+

The two kroxigors lowered Lord Adohi-Tenga’s throne to the ground and took a step back, kneeling in reverence with their stone axes laid on the floor in front of them.

“Dragons!” one of the pirates cried, sprinting away into the surf as if a daemon were on his tail.

“They’re not dragons, fool!” Henner cried. “Give them everything we’ve got! Archers, shoot! Rifles, fire!”

A great volley flew from the pirate horde, falling around Adohi-Tenga like a rain of death, felling still more of the ancient jungle. But every shot that found its mark did no damage, turning harmlessly to water a moment before they would have struck.

With a grinding of arthritic bone, the ancient mage-priest raised one hand towards the ocean, ignoring the army and their continuing attack as he spoke a single word in a language that only he could understand.

+Croak+

The ground shook as the tide withdrew abruptly, forming into a wall of water over a mile high that blotted out the sun, casting a shimmering twilight over the beach and silencing the pirate army.

+Croak+

To a man, Henner’s men screamed as the sea came for them, crashing over their heads in a vast tidal wave that broke with force enough to shatter bone before it washed them away, carrying their bodies and their ships to a grave far from the jungles of Lustria, where the remnants of their bodies would lie forever under the azure sea.

The kroxigors stood and took hold of the throne’s carrying poles once more, lifting the ancient Slann onto their shoulders. A moment later they had disappeared, carrying the ancient one back to his throne room where he might meditate a while, until some prophecy required the attention of his worshippers. Perhaps he might walk amongst his people again one day, once another ten thousand years had passed. But until then he would sit, as though dead, in the depths of the jungle, an ancient treasure that needed not the protection of dragons.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Thu May 12, 2011 4:57 pm

All you crazy, insane, creative people!!!! *shakes fists*

*Attempts to hash out an RiaR plot*
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Thu May 12, 2011 10:00 pm

Raziel4707 (Here Be Dragons): Excellent stuff, I have long been a fan of the lizardmen, they being the only Warhammer army I ever actually completed! My one quibble with this is that a wall of water a MILE high is horribly large and would trash a hell of a lot of jungle.....apart from that, very good.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Fri May 13, 2011 3:21 pm

I was going to do a WHF story - really I was - but then this idea hit me and wouldn't let me go. Oh, well.

Et In Oblivia Ego

(1,149 words)


Jalx watched the dust settle around him and felt, for the briefest of moments, a curious sense of dissociation. It was almost as if he was watching himself watch the fragments of rock settle – dust and grit that, a few moments earlier, had formed a rock face far too smooth to be natural.

Cautiously, he slipped the re-breather from his face. Beside him, Magos-Explorator Vilnar, whose facial augmentations made a re-breather utterly redundant, gave a rasping chuckle.

“The way is open,” the tech-priest gurgled.

Somewhat unnecessarily, thought Jalx. It had taken the expedition three weeks to work out that the rock face was a door and a further two and a half days to try every possible method short of explosives to open it. Finally the magos had reluctantly conceded that destroying the rock face was the only way of getting past it.

Jalx got to his feet unsteadily. Where there had been a smooth section of cavern wall, there was now a gaping portal, swathed in shadows that seemed to absorb the light from nearby arc lamps. Beside him, Vilnar was already moving, tough mechadendrites steadying him as he picked his way across the rubble-strewn ground.

Although this was an Adeptus Mechanicum expedition, its success was dependent on knowledge that House Martinez had graciously passed on to the office of the Fabricator General on Mars. For a price, naturally. Jalx’s presence was part of that price. Not that the eminent magos-explorator seemed to acknowledge the debt the Mechanicum owed the rogue trader family.

As quickly as he could, Jalx followed the magos towards the yawning gap in the cavern wall.

“My lord!”

Jalx turned, irritation already clouding his face. The powerful lumens wired up all around the cavern made the identity of the youth stumbling towards him all too clear.

Darvis.

“My lord!” the page gasped, as he drew nearer. “There’s something…”

Jalx cast a look over his shoulder. Vilnar was almost at the portal and showed no signs of slowing.

“Magos!” he called. “Perhaps we should…”

“My lord!” Darvis had interrupted him. If circumstances had been different, he would have whipped him there and then. “I can’t find Adept Cline anywhere. Junior Magos Sorin says that one of the praetorians is missing, too. It was at its station a few minutes ago and now it’s…”

But, Jalx wasn’t listening. Ahead of him, the crimson-robed magos disappeared into the waiting shadows.

“Stay here!” snarled Jalx.

*

A moment of dislocation. A moment in which he felt his consciousness lose its shape – its very identity – become, instead, a long thin string of being, stretching out impossibly across the galaxy.

“… magnificent.”

Vilnar’s voice, the growling of rusted gears, brought him back to the present. He blinked. Warm light poured down on him from a delicate lilac sky, shot through with thin threads of emerald cloud. The air was heavy and rich, enfolding him in an embrace that was as tender as any lover’s touch.

Jalx took a step forward. And another.

Tall, ochre grasses brushed softly against his legs. It took him a moment for his sense of perspective to assert itself. He and Vilnar were on the crest of a hill. Spread below them was…

Analysing, whispered the close, warm air.

Spires rose into the sky, their slender forms glittering in the golden light. Other buildings, their graceful lines light years from the functional architecture of the Imperium of Man, nestled together in companionable rest.

And the city was sleeping. Jalx was sure of it. Perhaps it was waiting. Waiting for… them?

Processingprocessingprocessingprocessingprocessing, breathed the rustling grasses.

Jalx frowned, turning to Vilnar. “Did you…?”

But, Vilnar was staring fixedly at the city. “So many marvels,” the magos whispered and, in the midst of this place, his voice, even muted, was a brutal, ugly thing. “Xenos-tech, of course, but still… Your house will be richly rewarded for this.”

Jalx felt a twinge of unease.

Processingprocessingprocess –

A patch of air roughly five metres from their position shimmered, distorted, bent.

Quite without warning, a figure, two metres tall and humanoid in shape, appeared before them. It was sheathed in golden light and its eyes blazed brightly.

Vilnar instantly brought up his bolt pistol. Jalx kept his hands at his sides.

The figure spoke.

“Welcome… to the enclave.”

Its voice was the richest of wines, the most succulent of meats, the most fragrant of spices.

Jalx swallowed down the saliva that had suddenly flooded his mouth.

“Enclave?” Vilnar growled.

“The Makers grew this place in the time before. The portal you have accessed is one of a hundred scattered on worlds throughout the galaxy. The enclave waits for the Inheritors to come.”

Jalx felt his stomach lurch. “Inheritors? Then the city is…”

“The city is empty. The city waits to share its wonders with those who will inherit.”

“Then it need wait no longer,” rumbled Vilnar. “Your Inheritors are here.”

The figure turned its bright gaze on the tech-priest.

“No,” it said. “They are not.”

Vilnar’s face remained impassive but the sneer was evident in his voice, as he raised his bolt-pistol. “We shall see. In the Name of the Omnissiah…”

The figure blinked. And Vilnar snapped out of existence. He was simply there one moment and the next he was not.

“Why?” Jalx asked, raising his empty hands.

“You come,” the figure said evenly. “Again and again.”

“What… what are you talking about?”

“You are not the Inheritors. You will never be the Inheritors.”

“I don’t… understand…”

And the figure showed him.

A man in animal furs raises a flint axe above his head to bring it crashing down on the skull of… a man in bright polished armour swinging a viciously sharp sword into the naked stomach of… a woman in combat fatigues bringing her solid projectile weapon up to her shoulder, squeezing the trigger again and again and again and… the man, the woman, the boy, the girl, the alien spins and falls, blood showering the ochre grass, infecting the very air with…

*

“My lord!”

Darvis was shaking him awake.

“My lord, the charges are ready!”

Jalx got up quickly. What in the Emperor’s name had he been doing on the floor?

“Where’s Vilnar?”

A flat, but carefully modulated voice answered him.

“Magos-explorator Vilnar has… has… Magos-explorator Vilnar is no longer present. In his absence, I command the expedition.”

Jalx’s eyes focused on Junior Magos Sorin for a moment and then on the impossibly smooth rock face behind him.

He nodded. “Of course. We’d better get this door open then, hadn’t we?”

Unthinkingly, he brought his hand to his face to wipe away the moisture on his cheeks. He rubbed his eyes, trying to shake the feeling that there was something he’d forgotten. Something important.

Shaking his head to clear it, he turned to Darvis and the others. “Come on, then! Let’s see what wonders await us!”

[EDITED for clarity]
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Fri May 13, 2011 6:56 pm

J D Dunsany (Et In Oblivia Ego): Now this is something rather different, and I do like it. I can't work out the motivations of the aliens though.....why allow Jalx to keep trying over and over again when they have said that humanity will never inherit the wonders they are protecting?
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Ballistichimp » Sat May 14, 2011 1:04 am

[Phew!! - 1113 words with title]

Echoes

Dust hung in a pall over the plains, smudging the clear blue of the sky a dirty ochre. The heat was incredible, rolling in palpable waves from the twin suns that loomed above and for a few moments Brother-Captain Laune felt a pang of pity for the human soldiers. He turned to survey the Imperial line, the lenses of his helm darkening to compensate for the hellish glare and was satisfied with what he saw. Twelve full platoons of the Lancers were already engaged alongside half a company of light armour, while his entire company and a division of Demolishers remained in reserve, their coiled fire-power waiting for the moment to be unleashed.

'Their spirit is to be commended, but they cannot hold.' The thunderous, synthetic voice of the Venerable Brother Vorum announced at his side. Laune looked up at the armoured bulk of the dreadnought and frowned behind his helm.

'We do not need them to hold,' the captain replied levelly, 'we need them to draw the enemy to us. We will wage this war in the field of our choosing.' A machine growl rumbled from the depths of the ancient and Laune took it to be a grunt of acknowledgement.

'This foe would come to us wherever we stood, it is their nature.' Vorum grumbled.

The Space Marine conceded the point with a nod but would not be drawn further. The terrain favoured them here, the plains gently sloping away from the line into a dry depression. They would have the advantage of elevation and the heavy weapons teams could pour fire onto the approaching enemy with impunity. Vorum was right though, sooner or later the foe would break over them. It was their nature.

The scale of the violence was unprecedented. In over a century of battle Laune had never seen its like. The tanks and devastators had turned the basin into a crucible of fire, launching their colossal payloads with admirable precision. The ochre dust had turned black with arterial gore and the mortal soldiers mired in the sucking filth died in their hundreds yet still the enemy came on, their bellowing voices raised in adulation to their insane God. Blood and viscera painted their crimson ceramite and the scream of numerous chainaxes could be heard even above the thunder of the cannons. Somehow, impossibly, the Imperial line was buckling under the strain, the unbridled ferocity of the traitors overcoming their horrific casualties. Laune shook his head and thumbed the activation rune on his power sword and the disruption field crackled into life. 'They fight like animals,' he spat in disgust.

'Aye brother,' Vorum replied, 'but a wild beast knows how to find the throat faster than a man.' The huge power claw on his left arm flexed in agitation and his assault cannon whined into life. 'The mortals time has passed. Let us put an end to this.' The captain nodded in agreement and took several paces forward, his sword raised.
'Brothers!' He roared, 'the hawk flies!'

It was chaos. Armoured figures clashed amidst the choking cloud of dust, ankle deep in bloody swill. A screaming warrior lunged out of the maelstrom, his jaws warped into a distended canine maw and desecrated armour edged in dirty brass. Laune caught the berserker's wild swing with his sword and lashed out with a kick, gracefully shattering the traitor's knee. The enemy lurched and tried to reverse his grip on the axe-haft, but the the captain swung low, neatly carving the warrior open from shoulder to hip. More blood joined the muck sluicing around his boots and filled the air with scarlet mist that blew away on the breeze.

Only there was no breeze.

Laune saw that the phenomenon was not isolated and that particles of fluid were rushing through the air to a point somewhere within the traitor ranks. He sidestepped another rampaging berserker, thrusting his blade into the exposed hip joint and ripped the armour open with a savage twist. Ribbons of gore spiralled from the split flesh, knitting themselves together into a rippling crimson globe that was rising above the battle infused with a sickening glow.

Vorum trained his cannon on the swiftly growing bubble and opened fire, thousands of rounds stippling its liquid surface with impacts but having no discernible effect. Shafts of tainted light blazed from its depths and the crushing heat suddenly thickened, the air itself taking on a syrupy quality. The few human soldiers that remained collapsed to their knees, gagging and retching, their throats clogged with swelling warp-stuff. Laune roared a warning to his brothers, but the words were suddenly eclipsed as the sphere broke.

The noise was tremendous, the birth cry of a God that reverberated across the battlefield and shook the ground with its ferocity. Those closest to the epicentre died instantly, their broken bodies hurled into the air by the sonic assault. The shock blasted a crater in the earth and swept the dust away, allowing the blistering suns to bath the battlefield with their scalding light and revealing the true horror of what had occurred.

A titanic figure stood before the assembled warriors more than twice the size of the Adeptus Astartes and clad in wrought bronze armour draped with chains. A barbed crown adorned a heavy brow pierced with massive horns that swept back over thick shoulders from which a pair of monstrous, leathery wings stretched. Thickly muscled, crimson flesh dripped ropes of gore onto the sodden earth and each fist held a serrated, black iron axe as tall as a man.

Angron.

A hushed awe settled over the plain. Here stood a son of the Emperor, desecrated and vile but a tangible reminder of an age lost. Here was a figure that had walked between the stars during the time of Horus and the crusade, bringing ruin to the enemies of man. Now, he was a monster that left only destruction in his wake.

The spell broke and the berserkers went wild, exploding into paroxysms of violence that dwarfed their previous efforts. The daemon primarch threw back his horned head and roared, his voice alone sending a tremor through the earth. 'Blood for the blood God!' He screamed and waded into the melee.

Laune watched the monster carve Vorum apart, one axe shearing away the proud warrior's cannon while the second swatted him aside as if he were little more than an insect and knew that they were undone. 'The hawk flies.' He whispered quietly as the juggernaut of death approached, scattering all before him.

'The hawk flies.' He said again and raised his sword.

Shouting his defiance the captain launched himself into his last charge.
Last edited by Ballistichimp on Sat May 14, 2011 6:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Sat May 14, 2011 1:32 pm

Ballistichimp (Echoes): Liked this a lot, I assume it's set on Armageddon? Very well-written, the best story so far I think.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Ballistichimp » Sun May 15, 2011 1:54 pm

Thanks :)

And yes, Armageddon.

The majority of the Astartes there were Space Wolves (and I didn't want to use them) but it doesn't say that other chapters weren't involved as well so it became 'Random encounter on Armageddon with the Hawk Lords'. ;)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Mon May 16, 2011 2:45 pm

My first ever Horus Heresy piece, I hope you all like it!

Works of Art

(1,017 words)

As the hours to the designated moment tick away, I can sense the change in the mood of the bridge crew. There is no appreciable decrease in their efficiency; strict discipline mingled with fear of my wrath ensures that, but nevertheless something is different. When the hour mark passes the normal background murmur of the bridge fades to almost nothing. Now and then crewmen glance quickly at the window, taking a few moments to drink in the sight of what lies before us. They think I do not see them.

The world beneath our vessel orbits a red dwarf star, unremarkable as stellar bodies go. There are millions more just like it scattered throughout the greater galactic disc. The planet itself is similarly unexciting; a ball of drab, lifeless grey rock two-thirds the size of Terra. Survey teams have determined its mineral deposits to be so low as to not even be worth the effort of digging them out. Just being here is humiliating; a World Eater’s place is on the battlefield, shedding the blood of the foes of mankind, not orbiting a desolate mud-ball like this. Regardless, Lord Angron himself commanded us to journey here, and I will see my duty done. Perhaps then I and the Astartes under my command will be given a task worthy of true warriors.

The reason for our presence orbits the planet. A remembrancer called the first set discovered “Garlands”: an irritating name, but it appears to have stuck. Each of the two rings is composed of thousands of crystalline objects, all orbiting in a band twenty kilometres wide by half a kilometre deep. The bands orbit at ninety degrees to each other, intersecting above the north and south poles of the planet. At those points, the objects that make up the separate Garlands pass each other, sometimes with only metres to spare, yet not one of them collides with another. Even I can appreciate the incredible feat of engineering that fact represents.

Samples have been taken from Garlands discovered around other worlds, and every time the results are the same. Each of the objects within the bands is a near-transparent crystalline structure that appears to have been grown somehow, rather than having formed naturally. The Mechanicus report that the objects bear some similarity to the technology utilised by the abominable eldar, but enough differences exist to suggest that those xenos are not responsible for their creation. Dating methods have returned a range of figures, but according to the best estimates of the Mechanicus, even the most recent of the Garlands is at least a million years old.

There was much debate about the purpose of the Garlands when they were first discovered. Theories ranged from the crystalline objects acting as solar power collectors to being abandoned xenos starships, although no way inside the objects had ever been discovered. The notion was even put forward that perhaps the bands as a whole were some kind of weapon. Only when a landing party stepped on to the surface of one of the worlds the Garlands orbited and actually looked up did they discover the truth.

The crystalline structures refract the sunlight that strikes them, so that when it passes through to the planet’s surface it is broken up into a dazzling array of colours. As the world turns and the Garlands orbit above it, patterns of shimmering iridescence wash across the surface beneath them, never the same from one moment to the next. When the landing party saw this for themselves, the answer was obvious.

The Garlands are works of art, each and every one of them.

But for whose benefit? No trace of xenos activity, past or present, has ever been found on any of the worlds around which the Garlands spin and it is unclear just what the builders hoped to gain by expending such time and effort in constructing the bands. I suspect, though, that the answer is probably quite simple. The xenos, whatever they were, didn’t make the Garlands for any particular reason, but rather built them simply because they could.

The mortals who see them blather on about how achingly beautiful they are, but such words are meaningless to me. I am a World Eater. I am a warrior. My purpose is to fight and to die for the Emperor; the only beauty for me lies in war, in the destruction of the foes of mankind. No, I never looked upon the Garlands as beautiful. The first time I saw them, I reflected on just how fragile they were.

Just as my lord Angron did.

Destroying a Garland is surprisingly easy. All it takes is the detonation of a torpedo in the right place, for instance where two bands intersect. The explosion disrupts the orbits of the crystalline objects enough for them to collide with one another, creating a ripple effect that spreads ever outwards, eventually reaching around the entire band and wrecking it utterly. In the end all that remains of them are shards of shattered crystal that will eventually be caught within the atmosphere of the world below and burn up.

I watch now as the nuclear missile I have fired detonates above the planet. Hundreds of the objects are vaporised at once while those that are not destroyed are sent spinning away, their molten surfaces glowing white-hot, to collide with more of their kind and shatter them in turn. I smile as a wave of destruction gradually spreads around the planet, wrecking a work of art that has existed for longer than some stars have burned.

The galaxy belongs to humanity, not the xenos, and against our overwhelming might the degenerate alien filth will surely fall. Every last one of them will be exterminated and every trace of their existence erased from the galaxy. The Garlands are monuments to xenos arrogance and hubris, and they have no place in a galaxy that we will rule for all of time. The rightness of my actions is unquestionable, for I carry them out in the name of the greatest of us all.

For the Emperor.
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The sense of threat that permeates the entire piece is fantastic. xrayex

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