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Messages - Baron

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Hopefully I can redeem myself this time around. (roll)

I demand another recount, just to be sure. ;)

Congratulations to all the winners!

@ Sinitrena: My whole idea for a story was that sometimes it is hard to see who truly is the devil.  I'm glad I got at least one person second guessing their first impression! ;-D

There were some seriously good stories this time around, making voting very hard.  In future we should just assume that if there are more than five entrants we can double up votes, unless the contest administrator specifically says otherwise.

My votes:

Best Bargain: Frodo.  It was such a simple thing, tweaking Jacob's vocal tuning, but it made all the difference in the world.  I've got to give a special mention to Sinitrena for trying to tie together five deals at once, but I thought it was more of a gift than a deal for the limping boy, so I've got to give Frodo the edge here.

Best Devil: Mandle.  Another close one, but I just loved the provocateur that Mandle created.  Honourable mentions go to half the entrants. Blondbraid's Old Man Sunshine was creepy, opportunistic, and wielded his devilry to particularly ironic effect.  Sinitrena's Beliar also deserves mention, for being a misunderstood soul collector just trying to give people what they truly want. 

Best Setting/World: Mandle.  What an office!  Quaint little alcoves filled with screaming impaled heads?  Chairs made of the woven genitals of the lusty?  Rugs of dried extruded entrails of the gluttonous?  I thought as a setting it was pitch perfect for the tone of his story.

Best Writing/Style: Blondbraid.  Yeah, some of the rhyming lines had inconsistent rhythms, but the language was phenomenal.  Days "so warm you'd swear hell itself is seeping up through the cracks in the dirt" paints the whole setting and sets the atmosphere for the whole story.  Likewise, "Her tears were gone for good, and forever here on after / When those she loved spoke of their sorrow, she was doomed to mock them with her laughter" sums up the whole story in a tidy little nutshell. 

I think I've left out Rocchinator unjustly, since his story was great; it just didn't seem to be best according to the categories this time around.  If we had a "Best Tempted Category" he would have won hands down, because I could see my own attitudes in Eric's worldly scepticism.  Eric also made the vilest deal, I think, which is what the whole competition was about.  If there was a category for "Best Deal Circumstances" I would have given Frodo another vote: what else would you do if you were tossed out in a dark alley in your underpants?  If there was a category for "Best Diabolical Motivation" I could have cast a vote for Sinitrena, since the sibling rivalry she described goes a long way towards explaining the almost childish rivalry we see in the struggle between darkness and the light.  It kind of reminded me of this movie called Erik the Viking where all the gods of Valhalla are all toddler brats. (roll)

Finally, in answer to Mandle's querry:
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Yeah, I thought Jesus first.  Then, for some reason, I thought Santa Clause.  When I read Adam at first I thought, wtf?  Isn't that already water under the bridge?  Then I thought, well, there are lots of Adams and clause 15 200 300 905 and/or the devil himself isn't specific as to which one, leaving kind of a legal loophole that the devil himself would love.  Then I thought there was some sort of time travel element, which would somehow impact the whole of human history.  Then I thought that if God had the power to turn back time and make that happen, then he could easily turn back time again and make it unhappen (either unsacrificing Adam, or if that runs against the contract, then going back before the contract was signed and not signing it).  Finally, I thought I was putting too much thought into the deeper meaning of a comedic story and moved on to Frodo's submission. ;)

Diabolus Imperium

   Hyperbolus Ornatus paced nervously around the atrium, the clicking of the mosaic tiles beneath his four inch heals echoing maddeningly through the courtyard.  He rung his clammy hands together anxiously before running them through his sweaty mop of curls.  His cherubic face, normally so poised beneath a thick façade of makeup, now looked a ghoulish shambles of streaky mascara and smeared lipstick.

   “Do stop it, Darling!” called the waspish voice of Lenis Penicius, his Armenian lover, as he lounged on a nearby dining couch.  “You'll burst an aqueduct in your cerebrum!”

   Hyperbolus shook bodily with frustration, causing his numerous bracelets and necklaces to jingle like a cart full of tambourines bouncing over cobblestones.  “Lenis, you cad!” he caterwauled.  “It's easy for you not to be all trepidatious, because you are not about to be murdered!”

   “You mean I'm not about to be emperor, Darling.”

   Hyperbolus scoffed and fidgeted with his penile piercing, wishing to Saturn that time could be turned back and decisions reconsidered.  What had he been thinking?!?  There had been 11 emperors in the last three years, not one of them lasting more than six months.  The shortest reign was that of Ejaculus Primus, who had lasted a mere eight days before being stamped to a pulp by the iron-shod marching boots of his own Praetorian guard.  But even Ejaculus' brief flirtation with the marble throne was an unqualified success compared to most conspirators. How many scores of pretenders had he seen over the years, crucified or garroted, or thrown to the lions, or tied up in a sack with a pack of little sharp-clawed vermin and thrown into water just deep enough to panic them?  Hyperbolus poured himself a cup of wine with shaking hands to calm his nerves.

   “Go easy on the sugary drinks!” Lenis opined hautily.  “You know those calorums go straight to your hips.  And you'll need your wits about you when you meet the Cranky Captain; nobody ever won over the troops with that dancing senator thing you do when you get drunk.”

   “Shut up!” Hyperbolus whined, draining the cup and flinging it at Lenis.  “You can be such a queen sometimes!”

   “Do you want to be called emperor Hyperbolus, or emperor Hippodromus?” Lenis asked cattily, referring to his friend's slight weight problem.    “Have a carrot, fuck!”

   “I'll scratch you!” Hyperbolus threatened, advancing unsteadily on his heels.  “So help me, I'll give you such a pinch!”

   Their impending mêlée was interrupted by the sudden sound of heavy footfalls in the corridor beyond.

   “Oh my gods, oh my gods, it's the Cranky Captain!” Hyperbolus squealed, his hands shaking with tremors.  He danced on his toes in one direction, then another.  “What do I say?  Where do I sit?  Oh my gods, how do I look?!?”

   “Like a painted sphincter!” Lenis exclaimed, sitting bolt upright on the dining couch.  “Come here, you skanky humming bird!  Let me try to fix you up.”

   Frantically the two men tried to compose themselves as the footfalls grew louder and ever more menacingly.

   “Hurry, to the solium,” Lenis fretted, trying to patch up Hyperbolus' eye-makeup while pushing him into an ornate armchair at the end of the atrium.  “Gah!  You have puffy eyes!”

   The footfalls stopped, and the great wooden doors at the front of the atrium exploded inwards like a burst dam.  A short, burly man in full military regalia had burst through the gates like a Hun looking for plunder.  He was so short, and so burly, that he appeared to be broader than he was tall.  He had a thick beard shaped in the Scythian style, and a large scar cutting across his left-eye from forehead to cheek.  But for his height, he looked every inch a warrior of the fiercest calibre.

   “Where's Hippocampus?” the soldier barked, looking around the atrium.  “Is it you!?” he asked Lenis, sizing the silk-clad dandy up and down.

   “By Ganymede's shaved legs, No!” Lenis protested.  “Hyperbolus is right here behind me.  Well, not right behind me, of course.  Ha, ha!  No, that wouldn't be very, er, regal of him.  Say, is all that chest hair regulation, hmmmm?”  Lenis impulsively grabbed at the tuft of chest hair erupting over the Captain's breastplate, but before he could his fingers were severed by the flashing blade of the Captain's sword.  Lenis stared momentarily at the stumps at the end of his hand, his face contorting into  a visage of pure disdain.  “You beastial barbarian!” he spat, scurrying off to gather his severed digits.

   “Aye!” the Captain retorted, stepping past Lenis to address the potential emperor-in-waiting directly.  “That I am, a barbarian, through and through.  My mother was the most diseased whore in the Roman army, and my father was the most vicious brute in the barbarian horde that killed her clientele.  My breast milk was human blood, and my school was the whip.  I am the weed that has been mowed and burned a thousand times, only to come up again stronger than before.  I am Virilus Indomitus, Captain of the Praetorian Guard!  And you are Hymenus Opennus, my would-be emperor.”

   “Actually, point of clarification,” Hyperbolus began pedantically, “it's actually Hyperbolus Ornat-”

   “I don't fucking care what your name is!” Virilus barked, licking Lenis's blood off his sword.  “I've made and broken eight emperors, and it will be nine in half a heartbeat if you cross me, boy!  You can play dandy or scholar or priest, it doesn't bother me.  Womanizing, sodomizing, cannibalizing, incestisizing: for me it's water off a Spartan's shield.  There was even that one guy who did freaky things with shaved chickens; whatever!  But don't.  You.  Ever. Cross me.  Your name is what I say it is!  Do you understand?”

   Hyperbolus barely hesitated.  “Er, yes sir!”

   “Good boy!” the Captain roared approvingly.  “You've already made it further than my last four applicants.  Now, listen carefully.  I've got ten thousand of the most elite storm troopers the world has ever seen willing to slit open their own mothers at my command.  Do you know why?”

   Hyperbolus squirmed in his solium.  Lenis had promised him that there would be no difficult questions in the interview.  He closed his eyes to stop his body from shaking, but all that achieved was focusing his mind on his failed bladder.  Suddenly the answer came to him: “fear?”

   “Ha!” the Captain shouted, smashing a priceless marble sculpture with the haft of his sword.  “No!  Well, in part, yes.  Their fear of me keeps me alive and in my position, but why do they obey the commands of the Captain of the Praetorian Guard?”

   Hyperbolus squirmed in his puddle, intensely aware that the moisture was slowly wicking up his toga.  He wished he hadn't thrown the wine goblet away.  Now Lenis was quietly using it to gather up the ends of his fingers.

   “Well-” he began, stalling for time.

   “Shut up!” the captain commanded, continuing to strut about the atrium like a puffed up rooster.  “I'll tell you why: silver!  They love silver, more than life, or love, or liberty.  Your job,” he jabbed a finger in Hyperbolus's direction, “your only true function in life, is to provide a vast and every increasing stream of silver.  Your soon-to-be-predecessor is late in his silver payment, as was his predecessor before him.  I need that cash,” Virilus said in an uncharacteristic whisper, making him seem suddenly all the more menacing.  “Can you provide it?”

   Of course there was only one answer that Hyperbolis could realistically give at this point, regardless of his actual ability to come up with the money.  He was about to seal the deal when Lenis piped up from a safe distance across the atrium.

   “How does the illustrious Hyperbolus know that you will fulfil your end of the bargain?” he asked piercingly.

   Virilus growled like a blood hound at a biting fly, but continued to pace nonchalantly.  “I don't show good faith, if that's what you mean.”

   “Typical,” Lenis sneered.  Hyperbolus suddenly became aware of a very prominent vein bulging in Virilus's forehead.  Undaunted, Lenis continued.  “You could just steal the silver and dump poor Hyperbolus's murdered corpse in the Tiber.  We might as well just be murdered now and save the expense,” he added haughtily, carefully placing the cup containing his fingers on the side table.

   “What do you want?” Virilus rasped, swinging his sword at the air.

   Lenis took the precaution of pacing the captain's speed on the opposite end of the atrium to keep a safe distance.  “You can kill us now, and get nothing,” Lenis reasoned.  “Or you can kill us in a week and have your money.  You need the money.  The troops are restless.  Aren't they, Darling?”

   “Restless.  Yes.”  Hyperbolus only dared to agree because Virilus was currently on the opposite end of the atrium from him.

   “You need the money,” Lenis repeated.  “We need Hyperbolus to be emperor to secure the funds from his ...backers.  You make him emperor, and then you shall have your coin.”

   “How long?” Virilus barked, stroking his chin in thought.

   “Three days,” Hyperbolus replied before Lenis could jump in.  If he was going to be emperor, he might as well pretend to be in charge.

   Virilus sniffed disdainfully, but after another quarter circuit of the atrium he sheathed his sword.  “Gentlemen, I think we have an accord.  Vengeus!” he bellowed.

    There was the clatter of iron-shod boots in the hall before a lone guard appeared at the door.  He was taller than Virilus, and his scars were arranged differently, but otherwise the two appeared to be cast from the same mold.  “Yes sir!” the man shouted.

   “Vengeus is my second in command.  The men follow Vengeus because they know he has my absolute trust, and he has my absolute trust because he is unswervingly obedient.  Hail the new emperor!” Virilus commanded.

   “Hail Caesar!” Vengeus shouted unquestioningly, punching his chest and raising his arm in salute.

   “Go tell the men to kill What's-His-Face, the current emperor, and have Hippopotamus here declared emperor by all the heralds and criers in the imperial bureaucracy.  He is now emperor, and any man who dares to question him must answer to me.”

   “Yes sir!” Vengeus cried.  “How shall we kill him, sir?  The current emperor?”

   Virilus gestured magnanimously towards Hyperbolus.

   “Oh, um.... Oh my!  So many ways to choose from....  Can we have him launched from a siege engine into a prominent monument?  I've never heard of that one before.”

   “Excellent choice, majesty!” Virilus smiled, waving Vengeus off on his way.  “You have a ruthless streak that will serve you well as emperor,” he declared, grabbing the goblet full of fingers as he passed by.   “A toast is in order!” he called, filling the goblet from the amphora.  “Gentlemen, to power!” Virilus drank the cup in one great gulp, then leered a grin at Lenis with one of the severed fingers between his lips like a pipe.

   “One must always be careful with cylindrical objects in one's mouth,” Lenis commented dryly, coming to stand behind the new emperor.

   Virilus spat out the finger and tossed the cup aside.  “You know,” he frowned pensively, “I need him to be emperor, not you to be his smart-mouthed advisor.”

   “You know,” Hyperbolus chirped in, not able to contain himself now that the sands were flowing in the glass.  “We need Vengeus to declare my rule law, not you to get in the way of imperial authority.”

   Virilus's brow furrowed, and the throbbing vein was suddenly apparent once more.  He reached for his sword, but his hand lingered on his stomach, whence the poison was now spreading through his body.  He made to shout something, but all that came out was a disturbingly frothy gurgle before he collapsed in spasms upon the mosaic floor.   

   Hyperbolus rose and pranced merrily around the atrium in glee.

   “Quickly, you dainty princess!” Lenis cried.  “Help me rinse the toxins from the fingers.  And summon a Greek physician and a manicurist!”

Six more days....  Six, six, six.... :P   My soul for some inspiration!  Or, barring that, a really good jelly doughnut.(nod)

I want a 497 word limit, just to be difficult.  What if brevity is our devil? :P

I can't see anything in my records for the last 5 years.  Go for it! 8-)

While I'm still disappointed that you didn't take me to task over my refusal to climb the learning curve for Al-Quest 1, I still thought it was a hilarious idea.  I look forward to my next opportunity for vengeance the next competition! ;-D

Asterix!  No, no, no, no....  I think not. (wrong)  How about:

You changed the requirements after I submitted my entry. I changed the conditions necessary for winning a trophy after you declared the winners. :=

I humbly accept my third and a half place trophy and congratulate the other winners. :cheesy:

You're misconstruing the facts after I rightfully misconstrued them first! ;-D  We'll just have to let the lizard-people minions sort this all out with their scythes of judgement.... (nod)

Asterix!  No, no, no, no....  I think not. (wrong)  How about:

And voting is now closed.  Except for the hanging chad variety, which will dangle over the results indefinitely. (roll)  I think I can say, without even a hint of hubris, that this was the best writing competition in the history of ever. (nod)  If you don't believe me then you're obviously a commie spy who enjoys clubbing your own fuzzy animals to make ostentatious fur coats. :P  But let's step away from the truth for a bit and stray in to the soft quagmire of facts for a moment.  The fact is that we have a bunch of votes, some of which might have been cast by legitimate AGSers.  Not to cast doubt on the process, but I forgot to check the papers of everyone who showed up to the polls, so the whole thing was probably rigged anyway. :undecided:  But whatever, these are the results we've got, and I'm too tired to tamper with them any more than I already have, so let's just call it a day and go watch some boxing. :=

Winning the Golden Hairpiece of Alternative Wisdom with an alarming 7 votes is the thoroughly discredited reprobate kconan of Outer Moldavia.  Clearly his Bat-Boy-esque good looks charmed the electorate, distracting them from his track record of yellow journalism and blatant character assassinations.  Well done, sir! ;)

Winning the Silver Hairpiece of Probably Would Have Won If The Other Side Weren't A Bunch Of Cheating Scum with an almost-too-close-to-call 6 votes is the virtuous and beautiful Sinitrena.  We can only hope that in the balance of time the courts will exercise their benign tyranny and restore her to her true place as reigning queen of the FWC. (nod)

Winning the Bronze Hairpiece of Third Party Wilderness is Frodo and Mandle.  Ponch would have shared in the glory too if he could have resisted using the T-word in his entry, so he was docked one vote as per the constitution, that revered document in the OP that I will unswervingly uphold as long as it seems to support my agenda.  Excellent writing all around!

And so here is the point in the process where I'm supposed to step down gracefully to make way for the new guy.  Unfortunately, I regret to inform you that I am hereby unilaterally suspending the FWC constitution by appointing myself president for life.  My lizard-people minions will inform you of the details with the ends of their whips and halberds.  BUWUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

...And that's a wrap folks.  We have five alternative entries to vote on:

Truth Bomb by kconan
You Really Want the Truth? by Frodo
AGS Today Vol.69 Issue 8008135 by Ponch
Thoughts Are Free by Sinitrena
The Scent of Victory by Mandle

Voting will be by the following categories.  Given the number of extremely meritorious entries (and kconan's) there will be a maximum of two votes per category.  Your categories are:

Best Alternative Truth
Best Alternative Truth Spouter (or best character)
Best Alternative to a Plot
Best Alternative Writing (think 90s grunge lyrics ;-D)
Best Alternative Thought Provokingness  Which entry really made you think a bit?

There are going to be some seriously glitzy faux-hairpiece trophies, so make sure you are generous with your votes for the entries you liked the best.  (You could also throw a vote or two to kconan so he doesn't feel bad. (roll))  Voting goes for three days and will tabulated at some point on Friday June 23.  Good luck to all participants!

See, this is why we can't  be too quick to close these competitions. ;-D

I'll leave it open one more day.  Voting tomorrow: I promise!

Nice.  Anyone else working on something?  I hinted at an alternative deadline, but if this is everyone we might as well wrap things up on time.  Post an update in the next 24 hours if you need until Monday; otherwise we'll start the voting tomorrow.

I believe you are making that up. ;)

I don't know about extensions, but I am open to Alternative Deadlines.:)  How about Monday night?

I don't think Grundislav is a very reliable informant while he's being anonymous. :P

Two more days, folks!  Keep those entries coming!

As a participant, or over a purple growth at the tip of your nose? ;)

Another figment created by the collective consciousness of deep-earth micro-organisms is the competition deadline looming just a week from now. :)  Since you have only the illusion of free will, they've already decided that you will be participating.  Yes, you.  And you, too.  But not YOU!  No, they think it will be more amusing for YOU to think of entering, and then succumb to the false temptation of fictional real-life relationships and hypothetical obligations like work and sleep.  Further, your guilt will entertain them more when YOU suddenly perceive an imaginary purple growth at the end of your nose in the shape of an anglerfish's proboscis. :P

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