Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays! ^_^WINNER^_^  (Read 4670 times)

Ponch

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Happy Holiday Of Your Choice, AGS Community!

Yes, it's time for another Fortnightly Writing Contest. The theme this time around is seasonally appropriate: Holiday Hijinks!

One fortnight from now, it will be Christmas Eve, the night before my favorite day of the year. The day Santa visits all the good boys and girls (but not Dualnames... never Dualnames := ) and leaves presents under their trees and reindeer poop all over their rooftops.

You have two weeks to write a story / shape poem / erotic haiku about Christmas, Santa, Frosty, Hannukah, Eid, Festivus, Kwanza, Yule, or Winter Solstice (threw in those last two in case you're a godless heathen and not a good, Santa-fearing believer like me ;) ). Just so long as your story has a nice, seasonal feel to it, it can be anything you like. Comedy, drama, horror, BDSM instructional manual, recipe book, etcetera. Just make it winter-y and holiday-y, and have it in before I put out the milk and cookies (beer and pizza) for Santa the night before Christmas.

I look forward to spending my Christmas morning reading your stories.  :cheesy:

(And of course there will be presents for the winners)

UPDATE: Now with trophies! (thanks, Tabata!)  ;-D
                                
« Last Edit: 30 Dec 2012, 00:20 by Ponch »
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Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #1 on: 13 Dec 2012, 04:21 »
Nice contest idea, Ponch!  I for one am prepared to put our past rivalry aside during this season of brotherly reconciliation and do my earnest best to dream up a tale of Christmas cheer.  Wassail to you, good sir!

P.S. I always pictured that you'd look that way IRL.....

Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #2 on: 13 Dec 2012, 04:26 »
I always pictured that you'd look that way IRL.....

Wassail to you, as well, sir. And I'll have you know my backside is much more pert and firm.  :wink:

I look forward to reading your entry!
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Sinitrena

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #3 on: 17 Dec 2012, 02:25 »
The Winter Poem
-A Fairy Tale-

Nissa stood patiently waiting for the men to light the fire in the clearing in front of the sacred hut. She was breathing deeply, praying to the gods that she would not forget the old rites, the words she would say for the first time in front of an audience. She had studied all her life for this moment, when the day was the shortest and the night was the longest and when the gods would dance with the people. It was her task to call the gods to the fire, and her people would be terribly disappointed if her village was the only one where the priestess erred and the gods did not come – and of course it would mean bad luck for the following year.

Snowflakes drifted slowly down to the frozen grass. The men in the clearing cursed and moaned because the wet wood took its time to catch an fire. Nissa looked nervously across the fire pit to the second sacred hut. There the priest of winter, Gohtam, waited like her for the arrangements to be finished outside. He was an old man, who had called the gods many times during the winter solstice and the summer solstice while it was the first time for her, the priestess of summer. She wasn’t ready. She knew she wasn’t ready. Mistress Jesna, the former priestess, had died only two month ago and even though Nissa had learned all her life this wasn’t a very long time. She was only eight years old. But she was the only priestess the village had.

The men finished their preparations and the fire started to burn. Slowly the men and women, the boys and the girls of the village arrived on the clearing. The night had started a long time ago. The moon had risen to its highest point. It was time.

Men and women readied their instruments: drums and flutes, lutes and pipes. Everyone else formed circles around the fire, holding each others hands. They only left two opening for the priests, but they would close these too, once they had walked to the middle of the clearing. Somewhere among these people was Nissas mother, but she couldn’t see her. She needed her, needed someone to hold her, to tell her, that everything was good, that she would be fine, but nobody came. The priests and priestesses were left alone for a day before the winter and summer solstice, when the change of power between the two gods took place, to clear their minds and to meditate, but Nissas mind wasn’t clear. She was nervous, she was afraid.

The drums started to beat. Two men opened the wide doors of the hut and the little girl walked out and to the fire. On the other end of the clearing Gohtam did the same. He wasn’t nervous, he was used to this, but Nissa wanted nothing more than to run away.

She stayed. She would say the first stanza of the Winter Poem, Gohtam the second and together they would say the third. The music would swell, the gods – brother and sister, husband and wife – would come and they would dance with the priestess and the priest and the people of her village would dance around them.

“S...Sn...Snow...Snowflakes and fire,” she began with a hushed voice, her arms stretched out to the flames, “c...coldness and heat! I call you, my goddess, in this winter night.” Her voice became stronger with every word. “We offer you wine grapes and flowers and wheat.” While she spoke, men and women laid down the offerings on a fleece next to the fire. “I ask you to change to green all this white.”

The fire burned brighter and crackled loudly and a face appeared in the flames. It was young and bright like the full moon and crowned with long shimmering black hair. While Gohtam intoned the next stanza, a slim body, belonging to the beautiful face formed and so did the face of the other god.

“Harvest and rest, silence and peace! I call you, my god, just dance one last time. We know you are tired, lie down on this fleece. You may stay this night ‘till the hour of prime.”

The gods looked to the fleece and then at each other and their hands touched. The music turned from a solemn, slow piece to a louder, happier tune and Nissa and Gohtam said the next lines of the poem together.

„Goddess of summer, flowers and rain: We call you, we ask you, dance with us now. God of the winter, new crops and fresh grain: Leave when it’s time, remember your vow.”

This part was easier for Nissa, because she wasn’t alone and it wasn’t that obvious if she talked a bit  quieter than Gohtam. She even smiled when she saw the god and the goddess starting to dance.

But then it was her turn to speak alone again. “Blossoming flowers, spring and...and” She hated this line. She could never remembered it correctly. And now, when it was most important, she couldn’t remember it either. She stumbled over her words and then was silent. The fire lost its brightness, the music jumbled and stopped. The villagers tripped and fell and the god and goddess vanished.

For a moment it was completely silent on the clearing. Nobody moved, nobody said a word, nobody even breathed. Only the still burning fire could be heard.

And then the screaming started. Nissa droped to her knees and put her head in her hands. Tears streamed through her fingers and fell to the earth. Nissa shivered and tried not to listen to the scream and accusations, but some of the words still reach her ear.

“This stupid girl ruined the festival.”

“More important, she ruined the next year.”

“The gods will punish us.”

“Idiot!” “Bitch” “Dumb shit!” “Cunt!”

“Look at me.” It was the voice of her mother. Nissa looked up. She had hoped for some consolation but she saw only hatred in her face. “Get up!”

Nissa stood. “I’m sorry.”, she said.

“Not sorry enough.”, her mother said and slapped her in the face. Nissa fell to the ground, crying even more than before, but her mother didn’t care. “You ruined the festival, you ruined the next year, you ruined the honour of our family. I always knew Mistress Jesna should have taken your sister as an apprentice. She would not have been so stupid. You are no longer my daughter! I wish I could change the fact that you are still our priestess!” The woman stalked away.

Nissa wrapped her arms around her legs and put her head on her knees. She wept, rocking her whole body. It was still snowing and she was cold, but nobody paid her any attention other than to throw a biting comment in her direction. One after another they left the clearing, left her alone – cold and tired and miserable.


“It wasn’t my fault!”, Nissa sobbed defiantly and threw a stone in the ashes of the still glowing bonfire.

“Yes, it was.”, said a gentle voice Nissa had never heard before from across the clearing, “But, honestly, I don’t care, and neither does my brother and husband.”

“It wasn’t my fault!”, Nissa said again, still staring to the frozen ground through a veil of tears. The woman said nothing and after a while Nissa looked up to see if she was still there. She saw a black-haired woman wearing a wide white coat over a gown shimmering in all colours of the spring. Next to her, their arms linked, stood a white-haired young man in a black robe over white pants and a ice-blue shirt. Nissa remembered them vaguely from the dance.

“It was your fault.”, the woman said again.

“No, it wasn’t! It’s Mistress Jesna’s fault. She should have been here! She shouldn’t have died!”

“It’s still your fault. You knew all your life that you would be the next priestess after her. And when you earned the verses you always stumbled over the same line and Jesna always told you to pay more attention. You knew Jesna would die one day. Time is fleeting. You knew that since your father died two years ago.”

“But I’m too young! I shouldn’t...”

“Yes, Nissa, that you are. You are too young. You shouldn’t be alone in this clearing late at night – or early in the morning.”

The woman walked slowly across the clearing to the little girl and knelt down in front of her. Her companion stayed behind and watched the scene with an expressionless face.

“You shouldn’t cry alone in the dark. The other people of your village should be here and hold you. Your mother should wipe away your tears. Master Gohtam should be sitting next to you and tell you the story of his old Master: how his old Master became forgetful later in life and how he didn’t know the lines of the Summer Poem once and – most important – how nothing bad ever happened because of his error, even though the people blamed him for all the things that went wrong this autumn, things that had gone wrong in previous years and in years after...”

The woman cupped Nissas small head in her hand and stroked her cheeks with her thumb.

“Who are you?”, Nissa asked, choking back some more tears.

The woman laughed. It sounded like snow crunching under heavy boots and a flower blossoming in spring.

“You know who I am.”, she said.

And Nissa did, even though she didn’t want to believe it. “I’m sorry.”, she said.

“I know you are. As I said before: I don’t care that it was your fault. And I don’t care that you said the wrong words. You meant well. Your people have a saying: It is the thought that counts. The thought was definitely right. I don’t care about your error, but I do care about the way your people treated you. If I punish your people then because of what they did to you, not because the ceremony wasn’t exactly right.”

When she said these last words, the gentle voice of the goddess of spring became darker and it seemed like the wind howled louder through the forest and the still falling snow turned colder.

“Please don’t!”, Nissa pleaded, “Please don’t hurt them! Please!”

The goddesses look returned from a place far away from the realm of men when she heard her pleading and her dark eyes shifted back to the little girl.

“I won’t”, she said, “for you. - It would be nice if you remembered the poem next year, though. I actually like it quite a bit.” And then she was gone.


When the normally expressionless goddess smiled the next year while she danced with Nissa, nobody but the priestess noticed.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I actually wrote the whole poem Nissa tries to recite because I wasn't sure where I would have her forget her lines. Therefore you get two presents for the price of one today:

The Winter Poem

Priestess of summer:
Snowflakes and fire, coldness and heat!
I call you, my goddess, in this winter night.
We offer you wine grapes and flowers and wheat.
I ask you to change to green all this white.

Priest of winter:
Harvest and rest, silence and peace!
I call you, my god, just dance one last time.
We know you are tired, lie down on this fleece.
You may stay this night ‘till the hour of prime.

Both:
Goddess of summer, flowers and rain:
We call you, we ask you, dance with us now.
God of the winter, new crops and fresh grain:
Leave when it’s time, remember your vow.

Priestess of summer:
Blossoming flowers, springtime and sun.
Your brother and husband waits for your kiss
The dance of the spring has now begun.
It’s time for a change, or the world is amiss.

Priest of winter:
Laughter and sadness, beginning and end,
Your work here is done, my god of the fall
You ruled half a year, now please be content
You may return to your ethereal hall.

Both:
Darkness and light, autumn and spring!
We thank for your visit in our fair glade.
Be shadow and hope, be queen and be king
and once you are done, in darkness you fade.

My "official" entry is the story not the poem  :wink:

It's still a bit early, but as I probably won't be online for a few days:

I wish you all a Merry Christmas! (or whatever other seasonal greeting you would prefer)

Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #4 on: 17 Dec 2012, 02:29 »
Thanks for the entry, Sinitrena!  ;-D  Let's get a few more, ladies and gentlemen!
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Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #5 on: 18 Dec 2012, 17:39 »
Thanks to Tabata, this contest now has trophies! So let's get some more entries so I can give them away!  :cheesy:
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Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #6 on: 21 Dec 2012, 12:54 »
Alright, I've got an idea.  I just need a spare hour or two to hammer it out.  Will report back by the 24th.

Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #7 on: 26 Dec 2012, 04:25 »
Ok ok, I've got it half done but the demands of family in all its many forms have prevented me from finishing.  I'll try to hammer it out tomorrow -I just need an hour (just one!).  Keep the comp open for me -somebody stall for time!

Merriment everyone,

Baron von Baron

Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #8 on: 26 Dec 2012, 04:29 »
Stall for time? If only I could figure out how! Perhaps the internet can help me!  8-0

Okay, I understand the holidays are hectic. You have a one day extension. And that goes for everyone.  :)
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Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #9 on: 26 Dec 2012, 18:02 »
COAL SQUAD

Melvin stood in front of the door, trepidation leaking down his right pant leg.  The bold letters, stencilled on the frosted glass, stared back at him as if from the black abyss of uncaring that they represented.  COAL SQUAD.  Now was the payoff of a lifetime of investment, if only he could pull it off.  All those years of toil, patiently climbing the ranks, just to get to this door.  He'd mucked the reindeer stalls in the Livestock Division, beat every quota on the books in Production and been a high-flyer up in Distribution.  But here was where the dirty business of Christmas really happened: down in the trenches.  This was where the big boys played, where the action was.  And Melvin had always wanted to be where the action was.  He swallowed the butterfly that had fluttered up from his tummy into the back of his throat, and then pushed through the door.
   A fat elf sitting at a messy desk turned a disdainful eye toward him and grinned unpleasantly.  He was wearing a short-sleeved dress-shirt with a scuttle holster strapped to his suspenders, and he sported a rat-like moustache over his sneering lip.  On the desk was a pile of files, a half-eaten sandwich, an empty coffee cup and a name plate with PIDOWSKI emblazoned onto it.  The fat elf leaned back on the rolly chair that squeaked excruciatingly under the strain.  "Looky looky!" he barked more than called.  "Fresh grist for the mill.  Check this one out, Garcia!"
   Another agent came over to lean on the desk of the first, though how he found the empty space to do so was a marvel to Melvin.  This Garcia was slender with sharp sideburns and a piercing stare, which he turned on Melvin at full intensity.  "That's just a delivery boy," Garcia laughed.  "I bet he hasn't even done basic."
   Melvin swallowed hard and introduced himself.  "No, I'm Melvin Murphy, transferring in from Distribution.  Here are my orders."
   Pidowski and Garcia exchanged glances and laughed.  "You're serious?" asked Pidowski, accepting the offered papers disdainfully before tossing them onto the messy desk unread.  "Kid, you're more raw than a Turkey six days before Christmas.  What do you think we do down here, polish ornaments?"  They were both eyeing him over now, taking his measure.  Melvin's back instinctively straightened.
   "You guys are the enforcers of the operation," Melvin said.  "You keep the magic real, by not allowing it to be cheapened by the undeserving.  I'm here to learn the ropes."
   The straight faces were gone and again there was laughter.  Melvin noticed that a ring of fat under Pidowski's chin jiggled as he struggled to speak: "Get a load of this guy!"
   "You think you got what it takes?" Garcia asked, the mirth instantly departed once more.  "We don't play reindeer games down here.  This is for real."
   Melvin nodded.  "Put me in coach," he said.  It sounded cheesy, and he regretted it immediately.
   Garcia waved a finger at him in a warning kind of way.  "Keep your eyes and ears open at all times, Kid.  Anything I tell you at any time might save your life, so don't miss it or forget it.  You know what happened to the last kid they sent down here?"
   Melvin shifted awkwardly on his feet.  He'd heard the rumours, but it was hard to get to the truth in the merry divisions.  Everything with a low jolly factor was heavily censored.
   Pidowski took a big bite of his sandwich, then bluntly told him through a veil of chewed food.  "Landed in a meat grinder on his first mission.  He's Hot Sausage somewhere in Texas, now."  That last bit came as a fleck of salami was spat out, narrowly missing the point on Melvin's right ear.
   "Someone's probably washing him down with egg nog and bourbon as we speak," Garcia jumped in, gauging Melvin for a reaction.  He felt weak in the knees, but he tried to appear outwardly nonplussed. 
   "I'm a detail oriented elf," Melvin replied.  "I dot my i's and cross my t's.  They sent me down here because I don't make mistakes."
   "Good," Garcia nodded.  "As long as you keep that up, you'll go far down here.  Garcia motioned for him to follow him on a tour.  Pidowski strained to raise himself from his wheely throne and lumbered along behind them.
   "So you know the deal," Garcia started.  "The big guy upstairs is a jolly old sack of goodwill who doesn't like to get his hands dirty.  So every year he sends us a blacklist.  We go in and coal the bastards, or die trying."
   Melvin processed this.  Everyone knew the gist of how Coal Squad worked, but now was his moment to get the dirty details.  "Where does the list come from?"
   Garcia waited while Pidowski caught up, wheezing slightly at the exertion.  "Ever heard of CI5?" he panted.
   Melvin shook his head.  He'd once dated a hot elf-chick from Admin and thought he knew the organization in-and-out.  "No, what's that?"
   Garcia filled in the blanks.  "Christmas Intelligence.  It's a secret unit of spooks who gather intel on the entire Receiver population."  Garcia grabbed him by the arm and waved that finger again.  "Don't leak that or they'll blacklist you."
   Pidowski nodded gravely.  "What happens in Coal Squad stays in Coal Squad, follow?"
   Melvin nodded.  But still he had questions.  "So.... if CI5 knows it all, how come they don't share the info with the proper authorities.  I mean, it's fine and dandy us coaling all the rapists and arsonists and so on, but wouldn't the world be a better place if the police knew all about these criminals?"
        The two vets shook their heads.  "Idealistic little squirt, ain't ya?" Pidowski prodded.
        "Tell him about O'Neal," Garcia suggested, leaning back in the corridor as if it were going to be a long story.
        "O'Neal!" Pidowski spat, shaking his head.  "O'Neal used to be Coal Squad: a real sharp guy.  They bumped him up to CI5 -he even made deputy director.  But he had this idealistic notion that all the world's problems could be solved.  He discreetly leaked files on the 100 worse criminals in the whole world to Interpol." 
        Pidowski shook his head some more.
        "What?" Melvin asked.  "What happened?"
   "Nothing.  They didn't believe him.  Some of those monsters were powerful men with powerful friends.  They had Interpol turn their investigation onto the source of the accusations.  Stuck their magnifying glasses right up our asses and gummed up our operations for years.  Hell, Christmas itself was three days late back in '64 because of it.  Do you know how much mulled-wine they went through wiping that from the collective memory?  It took CI5 decades to reestablish its network.  As a consequence there were blacklist discrepancies for years."
   "It's true," Garcia added.  "I remember when I was a young intern with Distribution and I had to deliver to Mao Zedong.  Can you believe that?"
   "What'd he get?" Melvin asked.
   "A Santa ashtray."
   "But the point is," Pidowski continued gruffly, "the f*ing point is that he should have got coaled.  We couldn't coal anyone for years without a week-long stakeout to verify that the target was truly naughty.  And as a consequence the whole world went to crap.  It took a couple years for the full fallout to hit, but you ever wonder why crime rates sky-rocketed in the 1970s?"
   "What happened to O'Neal?" Melvin wondered out loud.
   "He was transferred to Sanitation," Pidowski answered.  "Now he cleans the Executive Suite, January shift.  You know what that means?"
    Melvin shook his head no.
    "Let's just say Big S eats about ten thousand pounds of fruitcakes on magic night, and it takes about a week to work its way through his system.  After that it's the messiest month of the year on the throne."
   "Explosively messy," Garcia chipped in.  "Shit, I heard he's got six toilets up there, all in a ring.  He works his way around and around, and even then sometimes the infrastructure can't keep up.  How'd you like to follow that with a mop?"
   "The lesson, Kid," Pidowski finished, "Is not to take matters into your own hands.  We're big on team work for a reason, and we ain't big on loose cannons.  Follow?"
   Melvin nodded, but he was distracted by the cowled wraith walking down the corridor towards them carrying a giant scythe. 
   "Ghost of Christmas Future," Garcia whispered to him.
   "Hey Bozak!" Pidowski called out.  "You gonna show up for bowling this week, or is the old battle axe still got you grounded?"
   "Damn it Pidowski, I told you it was our anniversary," the cowled figure grumbled angrily, sidestepping the three of them.  He had a hard time squeezing by big fat Pidowski, so he poked him in the gut with a bony finger.  "Hey, you get any rounder and we could just roll you down the alley."
   "Very funny," Pidowski replied.  "Pick you up at eight?"
   "Yeah," the cowled figure called over his shoulder.  "Just clean out that sty of a sleigh of yours.  It's like riding in a pack-rat's nest."
   "Whatever, Princess," Pidowski called after him.  He jabbed his thumb in the ghost's direction.  "What a primadonna!"
   They continued on their tour, Garcia pointing out briefing rooms and holding cells, dispatch and interrogation.  Then he came to the coaling range.  "Now you gotta prove yourself," he said with a flinty grin.  "Should we start you out with something sleek and light?  How about a Mother Shuttle Pistol?"
   "No," Melvin asserted himself.  "I don't like the balance of the girlie scuttles.  You got anything old school?  Like a 44?"
   Even before Garcia could exchange a glance with him, Pidowski had his scuttle out of the holster.  "Here, try mine."
   Melvin had a feeling he'd fit in just fine down here.

--------------

Well, I didn't get to include everything I wanted to, but it'll have to do.  Enjoy!

Ponch

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #10 on: 26 Dec 2012, 18:26 »
Thanks, Baron.  The deadline isn't for another ten hours. So if anyone else wants to jump in and grab the extra trophy, now's the time.
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Baron

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Re: Fortnightly Writing Competition - Happy Holidays!
« Reply #11 on: 27 Dec 2012, 04:47 »
Thanks, Baron.  The deadline isn't for another ten hours. So if anyone else wants to jump in and grab his default trophy, now's the time.

Hey!

Ponch

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VOTING BEGINS!
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kconan

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Man this was close, as both were good...but I take Baron.

They were both really good, nice jobs. But I'm gonna vote for Sinitrena.

I like how you wrote out the whole poem as well :)

Baron

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    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I vote Sinitrena too.  Not just because it's a classy thing to do: she also actually followed the rules about a nice seasonal feel.  To be fair I thought the villagers were too one-dimensional (especially the mother), but I suppose simple folk were simpler back in simple times....  Anyway, the themes of redemption and forgiveness were well wrought, and I liked how she wove these Christian themes into a pagan fantasy world.  And in that context the depth of character of Nissa and the Goddess contrasts well with the unidimensional villagers: both Nissa & the Goddess can find mercy in their hearts despite being wronged/abused, while the unenlightened are mired in more selfish animal spirits.  So because Sinitrena actually put some thought into teaching a real seasonal lesson I give her my vote.

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I vote Baron. There may not be any lesson in his story but I definetly got a seasonal feeling - mainly because I immidiately thought of all those cheesy christmas movies that all seem the same and tell the same story. But Barons take on the christmas elves is more intetesting than all those movies put together. And it feels like the beginning of just such a movie. Thats also my only problem with this story: it`s just a start, there should be more.

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • Fancy!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
More votes! Ties must be broken! Moar!!
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My vote goes to Baron, also. It was a really tough decision, but Baron's entry made me feel guilty for enjoying it (which is impressive in itself). Good luck to both for the remainder of voting!

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • Fancy!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ponch worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
The voting booths are closed!

With 3 votes: Baron

With 2 votes: Sinitrena

And the tie-breaking vote: PeterT

Enjoy your trophies, ladies and gentlemen. Fine entries all around! (nod)

Take it away, Baron.
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