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Messages - Baron

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Best Writing: kconan for well-penned fight scenes. ;-D
Best Character: Mandle for a thoroughly despicable main character. :=
Best Story: Sinitrena, for the twist at the end.  I mean, I know the title implied that Hallgard's husband wouldn't make it, but right up till the end I was pretty sure it was Bjorn who was going to man-up and take the hit for the team. :undecided:

Dark Age Doings

   Hraþaz Soft-Axe lolled lazily in the willow coracle as it floated amid the long grasses, a fishing line tied to his remaining big toe and a flask of mead in his two-finger hand.  He absently swatted at a fly with his eponymous axe, renting another great tear in the flesh of his scalp, causing him to wince momentarily before settling back to the important business of lazing the day away.

   The hours dripped by like blood from a non-lethal wound.  The late September sun bathed the land in the deep vivid colours that heralded a harsher season on the way, but Hraþaz was not known for his forward thinking.  Long forgotten were the trials of winters-past, of surviving on tree bark and squirrel droppings.  It was just possible that Àbjorn Greed-Drool would need a human pin-cushion of his calibre to front his winter reindeer raids, but even this happy scenario eluded Hraþaz's simplistic mind.  He lived wholly in the now, leaving the heavy mind work to the likes of Bjarnvarðr Bore-Words or Fastaðr Split-Face.  If a problem couldn't be solved with a crushing blow of his axe, it was too difficult by half for him to grapple with.

   Which is how, in the dancing shadows of the later afternoon, that Hraþaz came to face his ultimate opponent.  Perhaps if he'd been more awake, or more sober, he might have realized the futility of the fight.  Perhaps if he'd more than one eye he would have gained more perspective on the situation.  Perhaps.  But perhaps it was inevitable that a man of Hraþaz's violent ignorance would one day pick a fight that even his brute grit could not overcome. 

   It began with Hraþaz's coracle running aground, a fell shadow falling over him and a cool breeze gusting up.  Hraþaz sat up, blinking in a confused and somewhat murderous state, finding a wooden man dancing in a brown cloak above him.  The man was hard to make out, as the sun was now low and behind him, but the knobbly angle of his branchy head seemed to imply some sort of joke at Hraþaz's expense.  At any rate, the gaiety of his dance and the otherworldliness of his body meant only one thing to to Hraþaz: he must be smote!

   And so Hraþaz balanced himself with both feet on either side of his coracle and swung his blunt axe in a mighty arc towards the offending stranger.  But through some jape of the light the wooden man eluded the blow, dancing merrily on as Hraþaz's axe smashed the water in frustration.  Twice more Hraþaz swung to smite, and twice more his axe feasted on nought but air and water.  Now quite unbalanced (for he was missing even the inner components of his left ear), Hraþaz fell forward to grapple with the wooden man by hand.  It was a fearsome spectacle, the veteran warrior screaming and flailing, the wooden man dancing wildly over the surface of the water.  Hraþaz managed to get in a few good blows, but the stranger stabbed him viciously with the sharpened points of some unseen armour beneath his garb.  Blood and sap flowed gloriously in a battle worthy of the heroes of the great sagas.

   Then at last Hraþaz was spent, impaled one too many times upon the sharp points of the broken undergrowth.  He fell back into his coracle, floating off into the sunset gateway to the halls of Valhalla.  There was a brief peace as the wooden man saluted his worthy opponent. 

   And then Bjarnvarðr Bore-Words returned from his cranberry gathering to gather his cloak from the tree.  Finding the garment now pierced and blooded, he looked about pensively and scratched his great grey beard.  Shrugging meekly at the unknowable mysteries of life, he carefully folded the cloak around a few small stones and sank it in the bog as an offering to the norns that weave the twisted fate of all men.

Dang it!  I've been away for Easter.  I can pull something together in a day or two if you are extending the deadline for Ponch.  I look forward to reading about how his caveman assembled his Smeärbarf out of mammoth tusks and a stone allen key. (roll)


It was the wicker dragon druid butler what done it!   ;-D

Dude! So nice of you to volunteer like that for the trophy making!

Can't wait to see what you come up with! :P :P :P


You realize you made me do this, right?  ;)

Congratulations Blondbraid!

Thanks to all for a great round and sorry for not being as attentive a host as I should have been.

I'm sure the forthcoming trophies will make up for any perceived inattentiveness among the rank & file.  I for one look forward to quarrelling with Ponch through expensive lawyers over joint-custody arrangements for our bronze beauty.  ;-D

Special mention to Baron's aptly named planet "Douchbag 3", that literally made me laugh out loud.

Where's that Best Setting category when I need it?  ;-D

Wow.  That's a lot of continuation story!  I had to reread Sinitrena's Little Dove, Blondbraid's A Broken Man, and ¡El Poncho!'s Oceanspirit Omnibus, just to get enough grounding to even start reading this fortnight's stories.  ;-D 

Best Writing - Sinitrena.  I really liked the thin walls, thin soup line.  It really made the knife-edge of their predicament pop out for me.  Your descriptions of Remria are also worthy of mention.
Best use of the theme - Blondbraid for poor, broken Paul.  There were a lot of parallel's between Paul and Sinitrena's character Jahm, but I felt more for Paul's predicament, as Jahm's was more of his own doing (which admittedly comes from the last instalment of his story).  I guess I have an easier time empathising with handicaps resulting from misfortune than bravado.

Favorite Story - Ponch, mostly for rainbow-striped toe socks and hamster-wheel platform shoes.  Is it right to take just glee from the plight of the handicapped?  Maybe I'm just a bad person....  :P


Who is this El Poncho, and can he be trusted?  I mean, what's he got to hide behind that sexy mask and pseudonym?  :undecided:

Space Balls!

Orbs From Space! :P

   Ska Dastard rolled menacingly through the cell block to the hoots and cheers of his fellow inmates, an armed guard at either side.  His dimples were scuffed and his tattoos were scratched from eight long years in the astro-penitentiary.  If he had a chance of parole in the next 50 years he might have used his time more constructively.  Might have.  Ska was a hardened criminal, with an emphasis on hard.  They busted him for spice smuggling, barge-jacking, and racketeering, but he'd done everything in the book, usually twice over.  This recent riot business was just par for the course.

   But the Warden wasn't amused.  This would be Ska's twelfth stroke in his books, which would probably mean a lunar cycle in the cat box, or even worse, another spell in the cyclotron.  But to his fellow inmates Ska Dastard was a hero, and that kind of reputation greased a lot of gears in the joint.  It was easily worth whatever hazard the Warden could throw at him.

   Ska entered the Judgement Chamber and took his accustomed position on the Tee of Misconduct.  A magnobeam locked him to it, allowing the guards to withdraw to the periphery of the chamber.  A panel of jurors rose on tees from portals in the floor, and then at last came the Warden on the Tee of Judgement, towering over the entire proceeding.  The lights dimmed except for a spotlight fixed directly over the perpetrator.

   “Ska Dastard,” the Warden began, “You are hereby charged with inciting riotous assemblage.  If convicted this will be your seventeenth stroke.”

   Ska shrugged as best he could within the confines of the magnobeam.  Next they'd probably charge him with being bad at math.

   “How does the jury find?” the Warden continued. 

   “Guilty!” rang the cries from the panel.  Fair trials weren't exactly a part of Orbian culture.

   “Ska Dastard, you are hereby found guilty of a seventeenth stroke,” the Warden continued.  “The punishment is... exile!”

   That was a new one.  An expression of confusion briefly crossed Ska's face despite himself.  Details would be forthcoming, of course.  The Warden loved the sound of his own voice when meting out sentences.

   “You will be left stranded on Douchebag 3, where the yellow sun and native's penchant for fluorescent track lighting will sap you of your alien powers.  You will be a prisoner in your own shell, powerless to move, a passive witness to the barbarities of the native culture for the rest of your days!”  The Warden smiled wickedly as his tall-tee slowly withdrew into the floor portal, followed by the jury and even the guards.  Ska was left alone to contemplate his fate.

   The cyclotron was starting to look pretty comfortable.  Maybe he could-

   Suddenly a floor portal opened beneath him and he was sucked out into the vacuum of space, sent hurtling in the direction of the bluish Douchebag 3.  He screamed as the yellow sun bombarded him with strength-sapping radiation, but Ska had a thick shell and was inured to pain.  He would survive.  He would escape.  He would have his rev-

   At that moment he entered the nitrous atmosphere of Douchebag 3 and his shell began to oxidize with a glowing flame.  “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!” he screamed as he plummeted to the surface at two kilometers per second.  And as painful as the burning of atmospheric entry was, it had nothing on the pain of impact that was about to-

   WHAM!  Ska left a crater almost a meter across right in the middle of a stretch of urban asphalt before bouncing back hundreds of meters in the air.  Strangely he noticed that there were many other such potholes throughout the urban fabric, but they seemed to go unrepaired by the natives.  What kind of  deadbeat losers lived here anyway?

   WHAM!  Ska made another impact, this time merely cracking what was left of a pedestrian right-of-way before bouncing scores of meters into the air again.  He felt nauseous at all of the changes in direction, but wouldn't give up now that he was so close to landing.  Now there was nothing beneath him but a nice soft carpet of grass.  He gently skipped another four times, and then rolled to a stop.

   Whew!  His ordeal was over.  But wait... who was THAT?!?  Not two meters from him, nestled next to some broad ground foliage, there lay another Orbian!  What were the chances?  “Hey!” Ska called to him.  “Hey you!  Can you help me out, bro?”

   “No way, man,” the other Orbian called back.  He lay half in shade and was able just barely to rock back and forth.

   “C'mon, bro!” Ska called. 

   But the other Orbian had now managed to roll entirely into the shade and laughed with glee.  “You're the Titliest 4 now, man!”  he called as he disappeared into the rough.

   Ska strained and pulled, but he couldn't move from his spot on the open green.  What had the other Orbian meant?  When darkness descended he would surely-

   But what was this now?  A club wielding native barbarian was approaching, with a pair of radiation-filtering lenses over his ocular nerves and a can of anger-sauce in his hand.  He immediately spotted Ska and planted his feet to either side.

   “Greetings, Douchebaggian,” Ska began, trying his best to affect the same accent he had heard from his fellow Orbian, hoping that it would somehow pass for native language.  “I have come here from an advanced society to-”

   Suddenly there was a light tap against his side.  Ska turned to notice the business end of the native's iron club looming menacingly next to him.  And then it withdrew away, far away.  And then it approached even more quickly, and Ska braced for impact....

   But then nothing.  What was going on here?!?  The bizarre ritual repeated itself twice more, and Ska began to think that these Douchebaggians were crazier than they were barbarous.  Then suddenly, on the fourth iteration of the ritual, the iron club did not stop and slapped him upside the head so hard he thought his brain would juice itself inside his shell.  He soared up high again, before bouncing gently on the grass a few times and coming to rest again.

   What had he done to deserve such ill-treatment?  If only he could regain his powers, he would wreak his vengeance on that senseless barbarian!

   But vengeance for some unknown offence flowed only one way that day.  Ska was driven, and sliced, and beaten to within an inch of his life.  Once the beast even tried drowning him, fishing him out with a long pole only at the very last moment.  Finally, at the end of the day, when at last the sun plunged close to the horizon and Ska felt his powers starting to return, he was zipped into a prison that smelled of dead cow with a dozen or so other former inmates of the astro-penitentiary.

   “Brothers!” Ska gasped, trying hopelessly to roll in the crowded confines.  “What terrible place is this?  Tell me there are no greater horrors on this planet?”

   The other Orbians huddled together in silence for a long moment.  Then one bravely spoke up: “There is a juvenile in the barbarian household that likes to clog up the plumbing at his educational center....”

 ;-D  ;-D  ;-D Sinitrena!  ;-D  ;-D  ;-D

I want you to know that I'm definitely thinking of coming up with an idea.  ;)

Hee hee!  We should all do it!  My horse will have one of those wheely carts for its hind quarter, and a giant cone on its head so it can't nibble on its casts!  ;-D

Congrats Mandle!  A well deserved victory.

Personally, I feel that DboyWheeler getting snubbed was too bad. I really like his story. But that's democracy for you. :wink:

If only there were more votes to spread around....  (roll)  ;)

Today was yesterday, Mandle!  ;)

I vote Mandle and Blondbraid.  In a way, I regret not writing a similar story about imprisonment during World War II.  That would have really weirded everyone out.  (roll)

All right, deadline looms:

Dances With Winds

       The Don sat proudly in the saddle like it was a throne, lord of all he surveyed.  Anything that fell beneath his gaze seemed to bend to his iron will, regardless of allegiance or proprietorship.  The Don was born and bred to conquer and command, and woe betide the man or beast who thought they might ignore his pretension.  With a soldier's grim discipline he would wield the whip at the faintest hint of disobedience.  There was no spirit in all the land immune to his ruthless domination.

   “Ha, Chico!” he barked, not bothering to spur the great stallion on which he sat.  The beast instantly sprang into motion, knees high in the impressive trot that the Don insisted upon.  The slightest stumble or imbalance and the stallion would feel the sting of the whip, and so he focused carefully on the rough trail ahead.

     Except now that they rounded the hill his eye caught the rolling hills on the other side of the river, soft and green like a bed of moss.  Chico knew those hills from his youth, a lifetime ago in a long forgotten dream.  There the long grass shimmered in the wind like hair on a dog, stretching endlessly unfenced towards the great mountains beyond.  In the days before he was Chico he knew the feel of those soft grasses beneath his hooves.  Back when there was no whip to fear and no stream untasted.  Back when he was Dances-With-Winds.

   A sharp spur to his flank brought him out of his reverie.  Those days on the soft unfenced grass were long gone.  Dances-With-Winds was gone.  He was crushed beneath the weight of the yoke and saddle.  Only Chico remained now, a sorry slave to an indomitable master.  Even now he trembled at the thought of being broken in the ring, his days filled with merciless beatings and white eyed-terror, his nights spent shivering in solitary confinement.  But the tremble itself was enough to have the bridle pulled painfully and the whip brought down hard against his thigh.  There was no room now for even memories of happier days.

   But still there was a glow to those distant hills as the lowering sun caught the sheen of a recent rainfall.  Not the parched oppressiveness of the valley heat up there.  Chico felt the dryness in his throat  that seemed to last from noon to night.  He was a hollow wretch, but he dared not even thirst for something more.

   Again the whip snapped down and the spurs dug in.  Escape was impossible, of course.  The river that separated him from the hills meandered in a deep gorge, and the river itself churned with icy waters over jagged rocks.  The only ford was miles downstream, and guarded jealously by an agent of the Don.  And his experience of the other direction was even worse: more and more Dons, with meaner and meaner tempers.  And anyway he'd never escape the whip and spurs.  His cell was made of leather and wrapped about him, even through him in the case of the hated metal bit in his mouth.  He carried his jailer and his jail with him wherever he went.  There was no escape from himself.

   Again the whip bit flesh, and he was sure this time it drew blood.  He was a broken spirit, and now his body was being broken too.  What difference did it make, though?  A short sharp bursting of the flesh, or a long thirsty grind to decrepitude?  But he dared not rebel.  And yet he couldn't bring himself to fully surrender, either.  So he was neither rebel nor slave.  He was just broken.

   The blood flew from his flanks and now his withers and his shoulders too.  The bridle pulled sharply and the spurs dug deeply.  But the connection between pain and feeling inside Chico was now broken.  He was galloping, full bore, down the hill, a crazed look in his eye.  On his back the Don bounced about like a scarecrow, furious at his treacherous steed, but still too dignified to be thrown from his horse.  Death before dishonour was his creed, and now it would be put to the test.  For the gorge loomed ahead, and the horse's aching muscles seemed to find new vigour and speed for the last leg of his mad dash.  Would the Don's will at last be broken?  Or would it be his body broken on the jagged rocks of the river far below?  Either way, his breaking was now inevitable.  Chico would not break on the rocks, though.  He was already broken.  Not broken like a draft animal, no.  The one called Chico was shattered like a crystal plate.  There was no Chico anymore.  The last of Chico splattered uselessly on the shrivelled weeds beneath the whip of a broken man.  Whatever was left, it was not Chico.  Whatever was left would soon dance on the winds across the gorge and up to the cloudy hills beyond.

   And then he left the ground behind, breaking the bonds of earth and servitude in one tremendous bound.  The writhing tumult broke on the jagged rocks, but the wind danced clean away.

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.  :=

Momentum... flagging.  Inspiration... fleeting.  What was the topic again?  (roll)

Your theme is broken.  :P

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