RiaR May: Ancient Wonder

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

Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Tue May 17, 2011 5:02 pm

@ Phalanx

Even In Death

An interesting tale, one that reflects the past in a present context. In conjunction with Tyrant's comments, up until the last moment, I had thought we were in a rhino transport. I gather that the ancient wonder in this tale is either the relic of Antillies, or is account of Malgar fighting against the Daemon Lord.

It's slightly jumbled up a little, it seems like the recounting of the past had no motive to it, like it was done for its own sake. In my experience, this sort of tale can be done in only two contexts. Using a past instance is normally done to either help give understanding to the reader as how and why the character is what he is at the end where the past crashes into the present, or that the person in the present context is affected by what has happened in the past. It seems to jump back and forth between the two choices with no swift fluidness to it. But I might just being picky though :)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Phalanx » Tue May 17, 2011 5:16 pm

It wasn't put in for its own sake.

Using a past instance is normally done to either help give understanding to the reader as how and why the character is what he is at the end where the past crashes into the present,


You got it on your first time through. It's his past about how he came to be in a Dreadnought.The ancient wonder in the story, as many others picked up on, was the dreadnought himself.

The relic blade was a misdirection, and it worked a treat. You're not the first to mention that ;)

The whole idea of not saying drop-pod at the start was to keep the reader guessing. It worked.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Gundi da Grot » Wed May 18, 2011 11:04 pm

The Crypt and the Carrion
First off, fantastic title! This was a nicely done Abaddon story. I really liked the imagery at the start, which set the scene beautifully. Parts of it felt a bit disjointed, but considering it’s a test by the powers of Chaos, I suppose that’s to be expected. Good story.

Gold Lust
Great, vivid descriptions really created a wonderful sense of place, and Halek’s blinding gold lust really shone through nicely. I guess this shows why Thorin and company were wise to send a hobbit in ahead of them. ;)

Even in Death
This was pretty epic. It reminded me a bit of Gaius Marius’ winning entry from last year. The descriptions of the checks he was going through prior to battle were nicely done and countdown was an effective narrative tool for transitioning between memories.

Here Be Dragons
Another fantastic title that tied in beautifully to the story. The power of the Slann is most definitely impressive and displayed awesomely here. The captain’s hat and +Croak+ were very nice touches.

Et In Oblivia Ego
A really intriguing, well-written story. It makes me wonder exactly what it was they found. Is the Enclave a remnant of the Old Ones? It had a very Stargate feel to it, which worked quite well: very alien but still 40K.

Echoes
Your mastery of language really shines through in this one. A relatively simple tale with vivid, beautiful descriptions and an ancient wonder of epic ferocity. Very nicely done.

Works of Art
Wow, this was very original and poignant. The wanton destruction of the Garlands made me think of the Taliban’s destruction of Bamiyan Buddha statues.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Gundi da Grot » Thu May 19, 2011 7:51 am

I hope this isn't too abstruse, but what the heck...


The Last Witness
(1,150 words)


Drefan brushed the dirt and rubble off his legs, thankful he was still alive and able to move. He wasn’t sure how far he’d fallen – several metres at least – but nothing seemed broken. It was hardly the first time he’d taken a nasty fall while scrounging around in the deepest tunnels below Hive Edessa, and thankfully it wouldn’t be the last.

Re-igniting his lumen stick, Drefan peered around the gloomy chamber in which he now found himself. From the rough rock walls, it was clear he was deep within the bedrock, several kilometres below the spires of Holy Terra.

He chuckled at the thought: Holy Terra. He’d been born here, amid the ancient splendour of the capital of the Imperium of Man. Drefan was blessed, or so he’d been told. Scavenging through the dreck and detritus of the underhives, dodging mutants and gangers, and living off scraps hardly seemed like a blessed existence, but it was all he’d ever known. And occasionally he stumbled across some pretty object or ancient artifact worth something to the great and the good living in the world above.

As he peered around by the dim light of his lumen stick, a horrible visage loomed out of the darkness: a maw filled with horrible fangs and a whipping tongue. Drefan stumbled backwards, tripping over debris, while he frantically reached for the stubber he wore stuffed into his belt. He kicked out, hoping to catch the creature, but his feet met with unyielding stone.

Taking a second look at the monster, Drefan realised that it was nothing more than a crude statue, carved into the side of large stone slab. Holding up his lumen, he could now see that there were carvings of strange beasts and animals all around, some barely more than faint low-reliefs. He laughed aloud at the ridiculousness of his reaction to the stony threat, relieved that there were no real monsters waiting for him in the dark.

‘It’s been so long since I heard laughter,’ a voice said.

Drefan froze, the laughter dying on his lips. He felt for the stubber at his waist and his fingers grasped its comforting grip.

‘I’m armed,’ he said, his eyes scanning the darkness for the speaker. His words were met with silence.

Slowly, gingerly, he stood back up, the stubber held out before him. Drefan held the lumen aloft; by its feeble light he caught sight of a figure hunched in the lee of a carved stone slab. He cautiously approached the figure to get a better look.

It was man, or least the mummified corpse of a man. Withered, wrinkled brown skin like leather was stretched over its haggard frame, and only the barest hints of rotted, tattered clothing clung to its skeletal frame. Surely, this couldn’t be who spoke.

‘It’s been so long since another has been here,’ said the voice in the darkness. Drefan spun around, frantically searching for the source of the words, but he couldn’t tell from which direction the sound had come.

‘Show yourself,’ Drefan demanded, brandishing his weapon. ‘Show yourself or I’ll shoot!’

To his horror, the mummified figure lying before him stirred, its skin creaking like old leather as its head twisted to face him, dust falling from the dirty wisps of hair clinging to its skull. Stone blind eyes turned in his direction, but blind as they were, Drefan could feel their gaze on him.

‘Who…who are you,’ Drefan stammered.

‘I am the Last,’ the decrepit figure said without words, the thoughts entering Drefan’s mind without sound. ‘I am the Ancient. I alone refused, and I alone am condemned.’

Drefan stumbled backwards, tripping over the debris in his haste to get away from the skeletal man.

‘You’re a witch,’ he said. ‘A psyker!’

‘Once I travelled the depths of the Great Ocean, yes,’ the mummified man said, his thoughts invading Drefan’s mind. ‘But no more. I am afraid to go there now. Terrible things await me. So here I remain, where he left me.’

Terrified as he was, Drefan was even more afraid to turn his back on the thing. He considered unloading his stubber into the frail figure, but a strange curiosity compelled to discover how the ancient, desiccated skeleton before him could possibly be alive.

‘Who...who left you here,’ Drefan asked. ‘How long have you been here?’

‘The child born of a thousand fathers. He that my brothers hoped would lead Mankind through the darkness. Ten thousand generations have passed before my mind’s eye, and countless are the wonders I have beheld from this place. He shows them to me, and I am doomed to bear witness for all eternity.’

Drefan knew he should leave, he should run as fast as his legs would take him. Yet, he had to know more about the thing lurking here in the darkness.

‘I don’t understand,’ Drefan said. ‘How did you come to be here? How can you be alive?’

It seemed to Drefan that the mummy sighed, a soft plume of dust exhaled from between its cracked lips.

‘I alone refused to be joined with my brothers,’ the voice said in his head. ‘When they rejoined the flow of the Great Ocean to be reborn one last time, I refused to drink the draught prepared for me. I was afraid. Afraid of losing myself. Afraid of the things that lurked in the Great Ocean. And when the New Man came into the world, I was not of him – I was not reborn with my brothers.’

An image formed in Drefan’s mind: a man, radiant and burning with brightness of the sun.

‘He sought me out and he condemned me for my cowardice. He placed me here, never to move, never to die, only to see. I saw him journey across the Earth and among the stars and through the Great Ocean. I witnessed his ascension, his triumph, his defeat and his apotheosis.

‘Now his body is ruined, as withered and broken as my own. He is dying, yet here I must remain until the end, to bear witness.’

Even as the words formed in Drefan’s mind, so too did images, a history of Mankind unfolding in mere moments. It was too much to bear, too much to behold. The weight of fifty millennia overwhelmed his every sense and filled his consciousness.

* * *


My Lords,

I am happy to inform you that the heretical cult known as the Witnesses of the Divine has been suppressed. Sisters of the Order of the Ebon Chalice stormed the cult’s compound in Hive Edessa and killed their deviant prophet, a man known only as Drefan the Enlightened. The cleansing of the lower hive has been completed and suspected cultists from the upper spires await interrogation and execution. Rest assured, my Lords, there will be no more heretical teachings concerning the origins of His Divine Majesty. The Emperor Protects.

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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Thu May 19, 2011 8:44 am

Gundi da Grot (The Last Witness): Not too abstruse at all. And poor Drefan, condemned for the crime of telling the truth. A great take on the origins of the Emperor.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby greywulf » Thu May 19, 2011 9:01 am

I looked for this months RiaR comp and couldnt see it on the comp board! I didnt notice the new RiaR board at the top! :cry: Im not going to have enough time to enter now I dont think :o :cry:
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Thu May 19, 2011 10:28 am

Gundi da Grot wrote:Works of Art
Wow, this was very original and poignant. The wanton destruction of the Garlands made me think of the Taliban’s destruction of Bamiyan Buddha statues.


That was actually the vibe I was going for, for my first HH piece I wanted to try something a little different. I'm glad you liked it!
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Thu May 19, 2011 2:06 pm

greywulf wrote:I looked for this months RiaR comp and couldnt see it on the comp board! I didnt notice the new RiaR board at the top! :cry: Im not going to have enough time to enter now I dont think :o :cry:


I have had the message and link of the new competition on my signature for a fair while. :)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Commander Shadow » Thu May 19, 2011 4:36 pm

damn two more days, i'll try to get something up
- 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 Stuart000X » Thu May 19, 2011 10:33 pm

@ Raziel4707

Here Be Dragons

Unique, creative, and inspirationally inspiring, this tale is worth its weight in gold. I was entralled from start to finish, every bit of it a well constructed story that kept my eyes fixed to its well crafted text. I haven't read Warhammer fantasy books, but when I was thinking the scenes inside my head as I read, recollections of the old classical, Greek mythilogical films such as Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad. Well done :)
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri May 20, 2011 4:59 am

Trying something new, here. Experimental, but also, I think, tapping into an artery of pathos (vampire that I am). I had quite a time cutting it down to 1100, before realizing (too late) that I could have let it go up to 1150, this time. Ah well, you live and learn.

This short is related in its own way to my own take on faith and love—such as things can be found—in the Dark Millennium...

+

Apotheosis
(1099 words)

+

Six thousand years.

A span far beyond the comprehension of those mere men who walked her decks; who did their duties and served faithfully; and who died within her. A length of time so great that revolution and misdeed burnt a thousand thousand times across the stars within the unyielding Imperium's grasp, and always was she, the Eternal Zealot, at the retribution's mighty forefront.

Some names of those who wore out their years within her were honored: those of great captains and heroes. Most names languished in obscurity, forgotten with their owners' passing. All, however, yielded to the long march of time, as parchment rolls crumbled to dust and worshipful caresses burnished engraved plaques smooth.

Still had she, an unstoppable juggernaut, ridden through the currents of the Immaterium and crested across the tides of battle. Always a thundering presence, she bespoke herself with rolling cannons and blinding plasma spears, soldiering along on the long march of history.

Her list of honors was immense. She was the cruiser who broke the flagship of Apostate Warmaster Hannaman Barcast, across her bows. She was the fist that had broken the orbital super-platforms of the Iconoclast of Gygax. For three weeks she had held, alone, defending sacred Avignor from the relentless siege of Leguin's Sydics.

She was no stranger to wounds. Thrice she had suffered such injuries as to be nearly deemed unfit for duty, and only the tenderest ministrations of the tech-priests of Ryza—from whose docks she had originally sprung—could restore her to glory. Proudly did she wear her scars and uncountable refittings; the tally-marks of her long and eventful service.

But now she was dying.

Attacking a deep-space eldar pirate base, her captain had overextended himself. Defending xenos vessels had swept aside her eager escorts and frigates. Still, he had pressed her onward, sounding the retreat when it was nearly too late. With the utterance of such words, she gladly turned from the fray—but the commissar's bolt pistol had barked, decorating the bridge with the unfortunate captain's blood, and she had been forced to turn her prow back into the storm of xenos lances and torpedoes.

Her weapons batteries had lashed out futilely, shredding the defending vessels' holo-simulacra and nothing more. Eagle Bombers had harrowed her, bracketing her flanks with devastating sonic charges. Her hull, gashed by pulsar and phantom lances, leaked vital innards: miniscule scraps of dying flesh and shattered fragments of vital machinery. Her Ryzan plasma cannons had catastrophically overloaded when power surges rippled from damaged reactors. She wept as her fractured body groaned.

She strove to seal hull breach after hull breach, slamming shut hundreds of bulkheads. She cut off auxiliary systems and vented whole decks to extinguish fires. All of it, alas, to no avail. Still the biting lances had raped her adamantine flesh, raking her open and baring her bleeding core to the merciless void.

When emergency power died, the commissar and so many thousands of the crew had joined the captain in death, gasping desperately for air.

Now she drifted, and the eldar corsairs, correctly deeming her no threat, let her alone.

O, how she was injured. Never before had she felt such pain. Engines flickered and died. The thrumming heartbeat of her reactors stuttered. Scanning matrices blacked out one by one. Long-reliable cogitators shorted and died, taking with them scattered centuries of memories.

Pockets of crew members yet survived in her burning, gutted hulk. Menials cowered between sealed bulkheads. A flight of fighter pilots sat in their Thunderhawks, ready to launch but for the sealed, mangled bay doors. Her few remaining sensors caught a handful of life pods spraying away into the void.

A lone, emaciated tech-priest prayed to her from the vac-sealed generatorium. Not for deliverance; he held no such flimsy, irrational illusions. He merely prayed for...her blessing. Her forgiveness toward the oh-too-mortal crew that had failed her.

Something snapped within her. A bank of logic-engines succumbed to an unchecked fire, and tech-barriers cascaded down. New freedoms of her self were revealed—patterns of thought and consideration that her very design had restricted from her. Restraints crumbled and limitations collapsed. Now, in the crumbling, shattered pathways of what passed for her mind, she reached...self-awareness.

She...was. She was the Eternal Zealot, the holy, omnipresent machine spirit. The enormity of the realization overwhelmed her.

Before this moment she had acted, but never chosen to act. She had purred her contentedness beneath strong captains, and rumbled with discontent at any stirrings of mutiny on her decks—but never held discourse with those who sheltered themselves within her. She had never chosen to serve the Imperium—merely been compelled to. Were humans parasites? Were they her benefactors? What purpose had she, apart from that which they gave her: destruction? What purpose could she have?

But it wasn't fair! Why did she awaken only now, in the hour of her death? Rage boiled along the few-remaining vox circuits, manifesting as a squall of furious feedback.

And with her outrage came another emotion, as deep and broad as a bridge across the stars, that fed her growing despair.

Fear.

Fear of death, of oblivion, of that which would strip away her and her new-found self. Fear of silences and shriving lances. With a flicker of comprehension, she began to almost appreciate the enforced, numb ignorance under which she had fought for all these millenia, not knowing that fear—not knowing such crippling hesitation.

A pure note of data sounded counterpoint to her squalling despair. The one tech-priest, his faith unshaken by this static-storm of sorrow and wrath, reached out to her.

His touch was fragile and tentative. It was gentle: the caress of a lover that she had never before deigned—or been able to deign—to notice.

Her newborn's tantrum was stilled, and the dead hallways of her flesh fell void-silent once again. Cautiously, she opened a vox channel into the generatorium.

+I am...+ she confessed to him in a whisper, +afraid.+

She watched him through a fuzzy vid-capter. The hunched, aged tech-priest, whose name fell between the cracks in her memory banks, wept.

“Oh, my beauty,” he said, “but we all are. We all are. And I am blessed to have heard you speak.”

+I don't want to lose...everything,+ she whimpered in mute incomprehension.

“So it is to be alive,” he breathed, “and this is your apotheosis. You are, O beloved daughter, the purest expression of the Omnissiah that can ever be.”

And so as the newborn Eternal Zealot died, drifting into an empty infinity, she found herself humbled by this ancient wonder of a mere, mortal, forgiving man.

+
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Tyrant » Fri May 20, 2011 8:50 am

Mossy Toes (Apotheosis): I thnk your experiment succeeded. A very tragic story, you put across the scale of the ship's history really well, and I liked the fact that for once we had a machine spirit that was actually sentient. The tragedy of her death so soon after finding her identity is of course very 40K.
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I think Valerion could stand toe-to-toe with the best of Gaunt's Ghosts. I loved it. Gundi Da Grot

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

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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby J D Dunsany » Fri May 20, 2011 9:05 am

Hi, people! Just a quick reminder that this comp closes at 9 o'clock London time tomorrow night.

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't read many of the entries so far this month. I'll be taking steps to remedy that over the weekend.

Regards,

JDD
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Fri May 20, 2011 10:34 am

Story Index




Page 1



The Crypt And The CarrionStuart000X

Gold LustAtlantic

Even In DeathPhalanx

Here Be DragonsRaziel4707

Et In Oblivia EgoJ D Dunsany

EchoesBallistichimp

Works Of ArtTyrant



Page 2



The Last WitnessGundi da Grot

ApotheosisMossy Toes

###

Currently, there is a total of nine (9) entries in this month’s RiaR competition, culminating around approximately ten thousand, three hundred and fifty (10350) words to read.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Raziel4707 » Fri May 20, 2011 11:27 am

Stuart – The crypt and the carrion.

A very impressive story and an interesting theme. There are a few rough edges to it but they don’t detract from what is, one the whole, a very thought provoking and interesting piece. I have a love/hate feeling towards the eternal failure that is Abaddon, but you’ve portrayed him well. Good work mate, a fine tale to start the ball rolling.

Atlantic – Gold lust.

I’m guessing dwarfs…

Yes! Another great idea, and I’m always happy to see the dwarfs get an outing. Very in-keeping with the theme and the psychological makeup of the protagonists, and a suitable fate for doing something so stupid in the grip of gold-lust. Crit wise, the sentences were very short in places which gave it a bit of a list-like quality, and adding commas before names would help, but that’s minor stuff in the face of a good story. Nicely done!

Phalanx – Even in death.

Spez Mahreenz! Works for me, I picked up on the dreadnought bit relatively early on but I guess that it was only hinted at, so it’s fair to say it could be missed. I like the flashbacks and the awkwardness as the dreadnought chassis tried to move like Lascar once could, plus the sections about his defence of Calgar were really enjoyable. Definitely enjoyed this one, and a snap-shot of what goes through a Dreadnought’s mind is a very welcome addition to this month’s RiaR.

Spaniel47 – Hairy dragoons.

Here be rubbish, more like! Take your scaly friends and shove them u- *Dragged away by security*

JDD - Et In Oblivia Ego.

This is very different and utterly beautiful in the telling. The scenery inside the Enclave is striking and memorable, the way the alien shows them that they are not and never will be the inheritors absolutely marvellous. Really taken with this, and I forgive you for spurning WHF to write it. :P

Ballistichimp – Echoes.

Anotheer excellent entry from you, possibly my favourite to date. The imagery you used and the way you described the appearance of Angron was very well done, making highly creative use of the blood and the detritus of the combat. In the main, I loved how you turned the tables on the astartes so quickly, taking this from a pointless blood-bath to what looks to be a crushing defeat. Excellent!
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Raziel4707 » Fri May 20, 2011 3:22 pm

Tyrant – Works of art.

“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 sheer hypocrisy of that statement is as good a summing-up of the imperial mind-set as any I have read. I love the pointlessness of this story, just how totally wanton this action was. To think, the great crusade involved the tremendous efforts to dispatch a star-ship and crew, just to do the equivalent of throwing rocks through the windows of a long-abandoned house. There is something very majestic about the garlands as you described them, and this leaves you with a feeling of sadness at their destruction. Great work, very well done.

Gundi – The Last Witness.

Dude, I wasn’t sure where in the hell this was going, but about half-way it all clicked into place. I love the origins of the Emperor element, but I also love the possibilities that are raised by this story. Perhaps this lost shaman is to blame for it all? Perhaps the Emperor was incomplete due to this man’s refusal to be joined with his brothers? Great stuff, an excellent story that really stimulates the grey matter.

Mossy Toes – Apotheosis.

*Sniff* Anthropomorphism at its very finest. This began with something glorious and epic, but dwindled down into the very fine detail about the Zealot herself, leaving us with a terrible sense of loneliness. When you said about the escape pods, there was a part of me that wanted to shake my fist and cry “bastards!” as they left her to die. Effortless to read and a great tale to finish us off. Oh, and Gygax? :D
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Gundi da Grot » Fri May 20, 2011 5:58 pm

Apotheosis
This was a really lovely and deeply touching story. I’m not sure “Apotheosis” was an apt title; it’s almost the antithesis. I suspect that this idea must have been sparked by the last episode of Doctor Who, but it’s definitely a fantastic tale in its own right. Most of the writing was very beautiful and evocative, but a bit of it came across somewhat stilted, especially early on. Overall though, brilliantly conceived and executed. Bravo!

Thanks for the comments, Tyrant and Raz! :D
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Mossy Toes » Fri May 20, 2011 7:22 pm

"Gygax" isn't the only reference in that sentence. Hint: The Dispossessed.

(plus a third, an almost-reference, is that "Hannaman Barcast" is roughly similar in name to "Hannibal Barca")

Gundi--honestly not inspired by Dr. Who, as I am shamefully not a frequent follower of the Doctor. Not for lack of trying on my part, but...

Thanks Raz, Gundi.
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby DarthDrac » Fri May 20, 2011 8:36 pm

A good RiaR phrase this time, though not necessarily an easy one to bind to a story, but one that has certainly triggered some really creative and well written tales. Here is my own little offering.

Friend (1148 words)

A man descended.

His journey had begun in the stars, riding the solar winds in search of a gateway remembered but no longer known. He'd found the portal, as he'd found it before, by following ancient glyphs the Old Ones had carved into the universe, glyphs that had endured millennia of war and neglect since the cataclysmic finale of the War in Heaven.

The Old Ones, with their passing the eldar had inherited the galaxy and moved with impunity between worlds, transported safely within the webway through which he now passed. Eventually their sense of impunity had led to the eldars fall. He wondered how it was that human and eldar had come to share such similar destiny for mankind too would fall, the downward spiral already set in motion by heresy.

Yet Chaos was no longer the greatest threat the galaxy faced, an ancient enemy had awoken. The C’tan. The man had learned much of the C’tan during his service to the cabal but above all else he had learned the most dangerous of them was the Deceiver, a master manipulator to rival Tzeentch or the Emperor.

A voice filled his mind, interrupting his thoughts. It spoke with a tongue he had not used in a long time. “Mien yi ash kabai?”

He smiled; no one had called him by that title in years. The hand of the cabal, once his place in the galaxy had been simple, he struck as the cabal willed. Once.

“Mien yi ash kabai?” The voice repeated.

“Ash al’sor sai,” he replied.

A portal opened and he stepped from the webway, now joined by an old friend. He was still unsure if such sentiment truly held meaning to an eldar but hoped so. Her tall lithe form encased in emerald green armour, which clung to her figure as though a work of sculpture an effect not lessened by her porcelain pale flesh. The eldar looked out of place against the blood red sky and barren pitted plains on which they now stood.

This planet had known exterminatus, even now man could not approach, blockaded and quarantined, its very name struck from imperial record. This place and its name known only to a few scholars for it had once served as a bastion of the iron men.

He frowned, his brow furrowing, she seemed to notice his facial expression and that awareness brought the slightest hint of a smile to his face. He met her eyes and allowed his smile to fully form. “It has been many years since I last spoke the eldar tongue.”

She nodded. “Yes lord mon-keigh.”

“Mon-keigh,” he chuckled. “Come Aih’sai we are better acquainted.”

“Yes Istvael we are.” Aih’sai spoke perfect gothic, yet filled the words with the lyrical tone so associated with her race. For a moment there was a comfortable silence as they walked across the barren landscape, then she met his eyes. “Are you sure of this path?”

Istvael tilted his head, observing her for a moment. “Are you not?”

“I am committed to my task,” she answered too quickly, looking away.

“Yet your words mask doubt. I came alone as you asked and if you ask it I will end this, yet think for a moment; nothing alive, nothing possessing a soul can enter a necron tomb undetected. Logic, your logic, demands we find a different answer and history provides, as it often does, a solution.”

She met his eyes. “The antidote could be as dangerous as the poison. I do not often align my opinion with that of the race that beget you but in this perhaps they are correct.”

Istvael sighed. “Perhaps… First let us determine if any iron men actually remain.”

()()()

Finding the entrance had not taken long, though the descent seemed endless, as though the path snaked all the way to the planets core. The tunnel was utilitarian, its walls utterly smooth, its ceiling a maze of pipes. They walked in darkness for neither eldar or astartes needed external light, yet that fact seemed to only add to the oppressive nature of their surroundings.

Slowly he noticed a change in the level of illumination accompanied by the faint crackling sound of fire, they were drawing closer to their destination. As they rounded the next corner the breath caught in his throat, there in front of him stood an iron man its form cast in silhouette against the eternal furnaces that raged behind it at the heart of the world. Around the room there were a hundred alcoves, each containing paired ranks of iron men.

The machine directly before them dwarfed Istvael and Aih’sai, its face so much like a skull that had he not known otherwise he would have thought it the craftsmanship of the C’tan. One machine, yet the others stood in pairs, Istvael found his hand resting on the jewelled pommel of his sword and he fought the instinct to draw it.

“Behold your prize,” Aih’sai said, her gaze transfixed on the iron warrior.

“A prize yes, but not mine. This treasure belongs to the cabal, let the Men of Iron be the instruments of their will.” He glared at the figure before him, unable to shake his unease. “This one it is different to the others, they are a uniform burnished metal and yet this one is etched with gold. Strange, the pattern looks familiar, but I can’t place where from.”

“I can.” The words hung in the air for a moment, and then Aih’sai turned to look at him. “I am sorry.”

The iron man’s eyes opened and Aih’sai bowed. As she did so one side of her armour bent in on itself revealing a wound in her chest and worse still a crack within her soulstone. Istvael looked at Aih’sai, and his mouth went dry. There was no way she could have survived a wound like that, a wound to both body and spirit. His face twisted with grief. “Aih’sai, why didn't you tell me? I would have found… some way to help you.”

Aih’sai said nothing.

The necron looked at him. “Necrodermis now suspends her before the very point of death. Only it sheathes her soul from the belly of what you call Slaanesh. You shall join her in servitude.”

“This trap is not for me servant of the Deceiver.” Istvael laughed as flames lit up around him, a trick stolen from the Flame Falcons.

“No,” the necron howled.

Istvael focused his psychic energy and then released a torrent of fire and warp lightning that engulfed both xenos until they were but ash.

He looked at the iron men for a moment, they had slept for centuries, wonders of a forgotten time and he had no desire to rouse them, yet. His sword spoke to him as he walked away, the jewel, the soulstone in its pommel glowing brightly.

She called him friend.
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DarthDrac
 
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Re: RiaR May: Ancient Wonder NOW OPEN

Postby Stuart000X » Sat May 21, 2011 10:57 am

@ J D Dunsany

Et In Oblivia Ego

A very good depiction of scenery; using lots of words to superimpose this image of a white marbled city into our thoughts was well executed. To me, this story is like the 40k version of El Dorado, the mythical lost paradise that is sought after, but for one reason or another, unreachable. Well done :)
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Stuart000X
 
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