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Thread: WOW #1 March 2016

  1. #1
    ヤンデレ |♚|KK|♚|'s Avatar
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    WOW #1 March 2016


        

    Hi! KK here! I'm here to introduce you to a new addition to the forum―the Weavers of Words.

    What's that, you say? Well, we've long had a contest that deals with the realm of graphics on this forum, so it's time that we had a contest for people who love to write! The Weavers of Words, or WoW for short, shares the relaxed nature of the Signature of the Month: while it is focused on writing quality―it's a writing contest, after all―it's not the only criterion taken into account. Other issues, such as how well your story represents the theme given and how pleasant it is to read, will also be considered.

    Unlike the SotM, however, the WoW will not have public voting, at least for the time being. Your entries will be appraised by a set of staff members acting as judges, who will elaborate their reasons for choosing certain entries in public (i.e. in a forum post). We may consider the possibility of having a public voting process à la the SotM in the future.

    To put it shortly, even if you're not that much into writing, we're inviting you to join us and help liven it up nonetheless. The WoW is open to all members. This is just for fun! Also, just like the SotM, winning a WoW round will grant you an award. A new award, to be precise, that comes specifically for this contest! Do you see what I'm seeing? Yes. That's a diamond, right there, waiting for its one and only owner at the end of the adventure! It's virtual, so it possesses neither the hardness nor the value it's known for, but it's still something. Like, come on, you know you want it.

    All participants will get this award...


    ...but the winner will get this!



        

    I suppose it's more appropriate to call these "criteria", but referring to them as "rules" may help ensure that people pay attention to them. At least, I hope so. Anyway, the rules for WoW are pretty simple:

    1. Minimum 500 words. Maximum 1000 words.
      .
    2. Only short stories are accepted. No poems.
      .
    3. No racism, religious topics, overly obscene depictions, animal/child abuse or other inflammatory topics.
      .
    4. You can pick any title you like for your story as long as it conforms with #3.
      .
    5. Please post your finished entry wrapped within spoilers in this thread.


        

    The theme for this month's Weavers of Words shall be...



    FANTASY REALM

    Such a creative theme, don't you think? Sometimes, some of us tend to forget what we were doing and start daydreaming all of a sudden. That's being human. If you're someone who dreams a lot and fancies imagining things, this may be the best option on the menu for you. It's not like there's any other option, anyway. Jump on board and stop not at imagining―write down the wildest ideas your mind can muster and express the freedom of your mind for the world to marvel at. All you need to do is make use of your imaginative skills, or powers, or miracles, or magic, or alchemy, or Limit Break, or Mystic Arte, or Flipsphere, or whatever you'd like to call them.


    Anyway, to clarify:

    The theme for WOW #1 is "An Imaginary Journey".
    What pops up in your mind when you fall asleep while thinking... or slacking off in class... or at work. Wait, really?

    Let's see how far your imaginative talents can take you. Best of luck to all participants!

    The deadline is on 31 MARCH 2016.
    You MAY edit your entry submission post as many times as you please before the deadline.

    Please submit your entry before the deadline. If you're unsure about certain aspects of your draft entry, feel free to ask around in the discussion thread. You can have only ONE post in the entry submission thread, but you're not restricted from discussing the WoW as much as you want in the discussion thread. The deadline may be extended on our discretion if circumstances necessitate it, but it won't be shortened for no reason, so rest assured and don't rush. Take your time to make a masterpiece!


    This thread is only for ENTRIES!
    For discussions, questions and comments, please go to this thread instead.




    Last edited by Ignis; March 4th, 2016 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Fixed image links
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  4. #2
    Rain Summerfields
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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016

    A bit over.... 540 count -____- edit: Did not see the maximum/minimum part... oops. ignore that first part...
    It needed an ending worthy of its roots, to be fair.

      Spoiler: Rain's Short Story 
    Throughout the darkness, when all, but the roaring winds remained still
    In a compassionless sense of wonder. Lived a warrior, a queen in the making.
    Viking blood flowed within every pore and strand of hair on her body.
    She had gave herself to Odin, as all Nordic people did.
    She was proud of her heritage, her nobility, her destiny….
    Her name was “Audhild Johansen”
    A fierce practitioner of the pagan arts, or in more simplified speak, “Germanic Paganism”
    It was not a throne she sort to rule, but the stage, the bright lights and the nostalgia.
    A much needed wake up call to a deeper presence.

    A pagan heavy metal band is what she wanted to be a part of.
    Black metal world class, like her heroes, Watain before her.
    This was an undisputed king, of the realms of murderous heathenism
    An incarnate of everything she yearned for.
    Also she so badly desired to wear “corpse paint” or befit the moniker of an undead breed.
    A musician of the black, a nightmare in shades, THE BLACK METAL AGENDA.

    To suit up for her journey into a musical living hell.
    She needed more members than just her lonesome.
    She was a gifted singer and songwriter.
    Endless nights Audhild would dominate the music halls,
    Singing to herself, all alone. Trying to make herself, as much as humanly possible.
    A mistress of the microphone.
    The only saving grace she had up her sleeve, was the fact she had come up with a name for her dream band.

    The name was “Naglfar” after the nails of bone and rot transport, that ferried the norse folk across treacherous oceans, to do battle at Ragnorok

    She was sure this would cause a buzz of excitement among listeners, her people, her family and friends. The ones she loved and cared for.
    Not all were pleased with her sudden craving for the stage.
    Ida, her mother. Was against the mere thought of her daughter, travelling with strangers, who she never knew well, and all that other activity girls her age get up to on a daily basis.

    She was 16. Not placing her thoughts to boys or her crowning of queen one day.
    But a fable, a ridiculous dream she had just thought of, at an instant, without any doubt to be had.
    Not to be outdone, she begged her mother to reconsider.
    Ida caved to her demands, as soon as she laid down some ground rules for the band.
    Audhild would have to let Ida have some of the earnings from the extensive tours and merchandising, as well as to be her manager for her and her fellow musicians.

    So young viking princess Audhild Johansen, soon to be one with the throne, her given birthright.
    Placed her hopes and aspirations into “Naglfar” her band, her life and her very soul.

    Lastly….. She needed a stage name for herself and her comrades in arms.
    So she came up with.
    Lord Angelslayer – for herself lead vocals
    Ritual Butcherer – for drums
    Lord of Hell - for bass
    Baptism Bleeder – for backing vocals and guitar

    Realising her smarts for personas, Audhild and her friends, marched onward.
    Onto the battlefield of hard rock and delivered a showstopping performance,to last the ages.


    Note: some names are based on real life bands and stage persona.
    to give a more real account of my fictional fantasy....
    I hope that's okay?


    The following are names used by real bands and stage names
    Baptism - Finnish black metal band
    Lord ov Hell - musician (based on King ov Hell)
    Lord Angelslayer - musician
    Ritual Butcherer - musician
    Watain - Swedish black metal band
    Naglfar - Swedish black metal band


    This is not in any way, form or visual, used to deceive or mislead
    readers into a facade. It is merely a representation of my love
    for dark music and nordic ancestry Thanks.....

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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016

    Here goes my submission for my first contest I barely made it within the limits of 1000 words (991 words ) It may not look like fantasy, but I was actually imagining it to happen in some kind of medieval era

      Spoiler: JaxxBlaxx's story 
    The Gate

    The track was straight and unyielding – a reflection of our resolutions; our footsteps were regular and even – a sign of our fraternity; our breaths were deep and loud – a proof of our tenacity. By then, we all had become so confident that we would overturn our destinies through this journey that we did not even consider the probability of all our efforts going to naught.

    “Stop! Stop!” We all came to a standstill as a commanding shout pierced our ears.

    My heart was instantly filled with uneasiness, yet the feeling of curiosity took hold over my body as I slipped past the tall figures in front of me. It was a decision that would overcome my whole self with regret – no, it was not regret… It was despair.

    ***

    …How long had it been since we arrived here? An hour – no; two or three maybe – it does not look like it either. That feeling of hopelessness that had shook me to the brim had made me lose track of time. All my energy had been drained that instant, and it was taking my very all even to stay conscious from the blow. Ah, the sun is setting; then it must have been a good 6 hours since our stop. I am sure that it had felt like an eternity for each and every one of us. Our faces looked so haggard and pale – an ironic sight as compared to how determined we were during our journey. I closed my eyes for the best; maybe I ought to evade my sight from our current situation for now.

    No, it was no good – the dreaded memories were coming back. I could still remember them all – everyone’s expressions, their reactions and worse of all, the hindrance that blocked our way. Its metallic build had given off a cold feel that sent a shiver down my spine. Beneath its massive size and its sturdiness lies the fact that our obstacle was a gate. However, all our physical and mental efforts were of no use to rid it off our way. In the end, we could do nothing but stare at the unfazed gate that blocked our entrance to the supposed land of hope. Will the door ever open or will it not? Our fate lies in fortune’s hands – an irresistible choice woven by the gods to ridicule us all.

    “It was futile after all…” A raspy voice suddenly echoed from the far back of the crowd. “W-we should have just stayed!”

    ‘We should have just stayed’ – It was exactly what I thought at that fleeting moment. We had our basic needs covered back there; we were in neither abundance nor deprival of food, shelter and clothing. But what was it that we lacked? It was freedom – the rights which make us human. The adults were constantly talking of a world beyond the facility that they used to live in; they called it a ‘utopia’ – what is a ‘utopia’ exactly? I did not know the answer, thus I seek for it. That should have been my reason for joining in a journey to witness a world unknown to me. A simple man-made gate should not have been able to stop me from my goal.

    “Is this your limit?” a familiar voice questioned me in my mind.

    T-that’s wrong, I told the voice. I am sure that our wills could pave a way out of this forsaken area; our journey would undoubtedly never cease to a stop over such a small obstacle. After all, there lies power in numbers, and surely if all of our hopes and wills wish for it, miracles could be born and the gate would open. Giving up to fate now is but a suicidal move, so is reminiscing of a past that should have been forgotten. My body unconsciously stood up in correspondence to my thoughts, and I finally found myself standing in front of the gate facing the pained faces of those who have fallen into despair—

    “Silly boy,” the voice chided me out of nowhere. “Don’t you realise you are different from them?”

    I instinctively turned my back in an attempt to search for the source of the voice. Assuring myself that the voice was a mere work of my tired mind, I could not help but ponder over its words; “I am different” – am I? Everyone else here was much older than me, but apart from this, am I not the same as them, pursuing the same destination and going through the same feelings? Ah, why am I even doubting my own identity? Surely, the atmosphere of despondency must have affected me.

    “Everyone!” I rose my voice as I gave an effort to lift up the general spirit.

    However, to my dismay, no one looked up. Needless to say, I called out again in a louder voice more number of times – but all of them fell on deaf ears.

    That was when I heard it – the voice’s laughter.

    I took a look at myself and the rest. I am “different” from them. Where does this difference lie? A touch of my own skin was enough to reveal to me the truth – I am not human.

    “Of course,” the voice echoed happily. “You are the gate.”

    Yes, I am the gate – or more accurately the entity which hands over justice to those who escape from the facility. My feelings and memories are not mine, but an accumulation of the ones absorbed from everyone else. I should be glad that I have fulfilled the objective assigned to me, but why do I feel so empty? I must have crushed others’ hopes repeatedly in the past; there is no need for me to feel remorse for there is no one to forgive me, the manifestation of an ancient magic spell.

    “Your job is over; leave the fools here.” The voice interrupted my thoughts. “Return, porta inferi.”

    “Yes, I understand – master.”


    Edit: Changed some punctuation.
    Last edited by JaxxBlaxx; March 8th, 2016 at 05:08 AM.

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  8. #4
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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016

    Maybe I should give it a go...

    999/1000. Whew, I'm really living on the edge...

      Spoiler: madness 


    A Mad Background

    One night, I dreamed of the land that gave me a new lease on life, but this time it was not just a dream. I was summoned to that land, spirited away, so to say, for the last time.

    The one who summoned me was only known as Gaius Sextus Lucius, an old man with a face, permanently cladded in full armor from top to bottom, and holds the rank of Duke. I found myself right next to him, wearing the same armor as he does, and overlooking from Space the land that saved my soul…

    …a land embroiled in conflict that only managed to achieve peace by forcibly containing the warring factions. I found myself there several years ago, mentally broken and could only think of death. The people who summoned me, the Pingtorians, enrolled me into their ‘military academy’, which wasn’t so much of an academy but a place for those with lost souls to find solace. I had all sorts of training and studies there. It gave me a new lease on life once I ‘graduated’ and returned to my realm. I spent something like five years there, yet when I returned only one night had passed, as I learned later that the time was a mess on that land. I made myself useful, but my parents passed away several years afterwards and I had no relatives to turn to, so I decided to cast away my identity, destroying all of my documentations, and wandered the world. I am officially disappeared and presumed dead. If I am still alive, I would be entitled to no rights.

    Duke Lucius spoke up “Did you know why I summoned you here?”

    “Something is going to happen. You don’t normally summon people in such a way” I answered.

    “You’re right, you will be witnessing an end time. This realm had served its purpose, and I have to end it by my own hands” He said in a rather stern voice.

    “…so I am going to be a witness of a destruction of the world.” I said.

    Duke Lucius turned to me and looked deeply into my eyes.

    “No, you will be the ONLY witness, outside of me and Longinus. Everyone was given the order to evacuate, and they are on their way”. This “Longinus” figure is Lucius’s counterpart, no one know exactly what he is, but one thing was certain, he is exceedingly powerful, and the reason the Pingtorians managed to hold together.

    “Do you have anything else? I don’t think you summoned me here for a small talk” I asked.

    “Tell me one thing: What are you going to do with all that power you got during your time with us?”

    “I only took all that power so that no-one will have to live…no, exist for all eternity…it is my burden to bear.”

    “You still haven’t answered my question.”

    “I’m sure you, of all people, know the extent that my power goes. There is little to do but to disappear, as I no longer have any obligation to fulfill but to keep on living…and existing afterwards”

    “Our mess will spill into your realm…OUR mess. Yes, my senses are so heightened I can see that far…not quite omniscience, but that far.”

    “Then I will take it upon myself to right them all. After all, I will fully become a Pingtorian after my life ends, which cannot happen prematurely. Even now, your mess is my mess. Besides, that’d get me something to do”

    “Well, I have nothing more now. Be well, my friend, and I’ll attend your wedding when that time comes!”

    “Lookin’ forward to it!” The last part of his sentence sounded extremely prophetic to me.

    “Okay…LONGINUS, LET’S FINISH THIS!” After Duke Lucius’s yell, another figure that was exactly like him, apart from having no facial features outside of facial hairs, rushed to him and fused into one. And everything became light…or as those old men…my masters, like to put it, “porridge”.

    As I watched the universe that house this little planet crumble around me, my armor kept me safe…can’t say I enjoyed the view, but this have become history…

    As the light faded, I think I had a vision…

    I saw a girl, about ten years or so of age, wearing full armor, her sliver hair gave a metallic sheen, holding a polearm –Lucius’s specialty, patrolling her estate…Lucius’s estate, on foot. This will be the last time I saw her within the foreseeable future...

    She will be all alone, but I’m sure she will be alright, as the Pingtorian within me says so…

    I woke up afterwards, transported back to where I was. I was in the middle of nowhere, taking a moment’s rest, which coincided with the Duke summoning me. He would have summoned me otherwise, but it just happened that I was sleeping, so the summon took the form of a dream. Only a short time, like a single minute, passed. It took quite a while in there, but again, time was messed up in that realm.

    My sleep had been amplified – merely dozing off will let me continue on for ten days without sleeping. Actively converting things in the ambient into energy only keep me going for longer. This is but one of the vast arrays of power I carry, but I actually forget what I can do; only being able to use them as I can remember. A flaw, I suppose…

    I got all of these in last major battle I’ve fought in before graduating; I took in all the power from the fallen and distributed barely enough for the surviving comrades to fight on, and held the rest within me, as getting too much will entail a VERY lasting existence, like I said before.

    ...well, the actual effect is unknown, but at least everyone else will end. I won’t, and thus I wander on, nameless, for the time.




    Revision: 1
    Last edited by pingtoryan; March 31st, 2016 at 09:14 AM. Reason: Revision (1)
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    Learning is pursued in the name of the many...the studious, who generation after generation, chose the mantle-...of Dire Students.

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  10. #5
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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016

    Had to cut a bit to fit the limit.. might have put too much details..~ But it represents the journey quite well..~

    The setting is actually based off a larger story of mine so... Hopefully its clear...~

      Spoiler: Our Adventure? 
    I clutched the small letter to my chest, its content running through my mind. With a sigh, I glanced over to the pocket watch laying on the pillow for what was likely the thousandth time tonight. The seconds tick away ever so slowly, marking the time until her arrival. I fiddled with the gears sitting on my desk, but just couldn't concentrate. Once again, I looked over the letter. The delicate lines appeared to draw in the moonlight, leaving trails which danced across the page. The soft glow was as beautiful as it had been when I first discovered it, all those years ago. I watched mesmerized as the hours passed and it finally started to fade. Half the stars had disappeared from the sky and there was a distinctive purple tint which announced the dawn. After retrieving my bag, I silently slipped out the door. I hurried through the empty streets, heading for the gate. The guard wearily waved me through, indifferent as he had always been.

    I was once again amongst the forest greenery, free to meandering through the undergrowth as I wished. The songbirds flitted through the trees above, one in particular catching my eye. Faint trails of blue lingered in the darkness, scattering from its wings. I quickened my pace to follow the bird as it methodically glided from one bush to the next. Eventually, it led me to a small grove where a girl rested. She had flowing white hair with a tint of blue, tied back by a ribbon of a darker shade. Her eyes flutter open as I approach and she stretches sleepily before greeting me with “Good morning.”

    We visited the guild for fresh supplies and the following days consisted of small talk as we passed through the forest. She had been working on another request and simply came by on her way home. While we walked, I fiddled with the pocket watch I had given her when we first met. It had accumulated quite a few bits and pieces over the years, but it was a masterpiece that was never intended to be finished. Every part contained a memory, some which were very dear to me.

    In the evening of the second day, we arrived at the mansion her clan called home. As we neared the door, I noticed subtle shifts within her demeanor with her aura progressively clouded by darkness. It cleared somewhat when she noticed me watching and she tried to reassure me with a small smile. She pushed open the door with a heavy sigh, revealing a hall which seemed to stretch on endlessly. It was quite a different experience to finally see the mansion I had only heard tales of prior. I followed her as she passed door after door, occasionally entering one and continuing down another seemingly endless hall. Silence was our main companion, with the tatami muffling our footsteps. The few we passed in the halls glanced toward me with suspicion in their eyes, but hurried away when she glared at them. She whispered a quiet apology after we passed into a dark room.

    She snapped her fingers and a pale blue sphere appeared. It cast a fluctuating light in the vicinity, revealing rows of shelves nearby. We went down a row further from the door, marked with a small spark resonating to her aura. She continued forward with confidence, but I would probably have gotten lost within minute. The library was almost labyrinthine and I was almost certain that the shelves shifted around. She only gave me a wry smile when I asked and silently continued along. Her destination was a seemingly arbitrary shelf in the middle of the room. She blew the dust off a few spots and swapped books around. The shelf slid away to reveal a small chamber... or perhaps I should say, the illusion of a chamber. She pushed her hand through the air before her and it rippled in response. I tried to see beyond the distortion, but the warmth of her hand met my own and pulled me along.

    We fell into musty tunnels lined with stacks of books and scrolls. The walls of the tunnels looked as if it had been formed by flowing lava which left a smooth coat of obsidian where it dried. The black glass only made the tunnels more difficult to traverse. There was a thin path to walk past the books, although it was difficult to get by without knocking some over. She was forever a few steps ahead, waiting for me to slip through the latest obstacle. Her light rested on my shoulder and occasionally drifted toward a path when I was unsure of which to take. At the end, we arrived at a chamber hidden within another layer of illusion.

    Ariya let out a sigh of relief as we entered. She had just set aside her bag when a small purple flame zipped toward Ariya, complaining about her boredom. It appeared that this was the guardian spirit I heard so much about. She had taken on the form of a fairy, about the size of a hand. Her silvery hair had a slight purple tint, and these two colors were repeated within her dress. She continued chatting a storm without waiting for replies until Ariya put a finger over her mouth. The fairy paused for a moment before starting her barrage anew with questions about me. It took quite a while to satisfy her curiosity and send her away.

    Ariya gave me a tour of the chamber, which she was basically using as her room. A small alcove to the side had turned into her bedroom with her equipment piled on a table nearby. She led me to a section which recorded her ancestor's study of time, thinking it would be of interest to me. While I was busy reading, she slipped an blue opal amulet onto my neck. “To the first visitor of my secret library. Happy birthday Chiaki.”


    Would like to give the award to twinny if this wins..~
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  12. #6
    If Only I Had A Life ancer_nyaa's Avatar
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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016

      Spoiler: The Story About The Anime-Sharing Kingdom And Ancer_Nyaa 
    Once upon a time, there was a black cat named Ancer. He walked on two legs and carried a basket filled with oranges. Currently, he is in a journey.

    As Ancer walked on the gravel road, the summer breeze blew softly. Because of his low albedo black fur, the heat coming from the bright sun was doubled. For a moment, Ancer fell down face first on the ground. "Aah~~This is the end for me" that was what Ancer thought as he hugged the gravel and felt relieved from the gravel which mysteriously felt good for Ancer. Maybe because he is a cat.

    "I won't give up yet...I have something to do"

    Ancer murmured to himself as he struggled to stand up. His motivation went up as he thought of the goal of his journey. His goal was none other than to defeat King Checkmate, the ruler of the Anime-Sharing Kingdom and the Kingdom of Loli and Imouto! With his goal in his mind, Ancer took a deep breath and felt the nature around him. The smell of summer was everywhere and the sound of cicadas were a bit relieving because it made Ancer thought that he was not alone in his journey (He is alone in his journey though). He put up his smile and cleaned his face as he resumed his walk to the Anime-Sharing Castle.

    A couple of days later, the Anime-Sharing Castle was in his vision. Ancer was close to his destination. He paused for a moment to look at the elegant castle. Even from afar, he could feel King Checkmate’s immense power.

    For Ancer to defeat King Checkmate, he needed to defeat the four pillars (Big Guys or Girls, I don’t know) of Anime-Sharing Kingdom. The fourth pillar is named Girlcelly. Girlcelly was known from ruling the Torrents Fortress of the Anime-Sharing Kingdom. The third pillar’s name is Corocoro. Corocoro’s known for having the strength of thousands of foot soldiers and for having quite a cute name. The second pillar’s name is Ignis, the ruler of the the fire fortress. The first pillar’s name is King Arthuria, the ruler of Avalon.

    Fire burned in Ancer’s eyes as he made a dash to get through the giant gates of the Anime-Sharing Kingdom. However, he was stopped by a knight called FlowerTradeWinds, FTW for short.

    “Passport”

    FTW, asked Ancer for a passport so that he could go through the gates. Since Ancer was a good cat and well organized, he carried his passport along with him.

    “Now go in”

    FTW returned Ancer’s passport and gave him permission to enter the Anime-Sharing Kingdom. After the gates opened, Ancer made a run for it towards the Anime-Sharing Castle. As Ancer got closer to the front entrance of the castle, Girclcelly sensed something kinda bad about to happened and found Ancer about to run inside the castle. Without hesitation, Girlcelly used his (her?) torrent to blast away Ancer away from the front entrance of the Anime-Sharing Castle. That was Ancer’s defeat.


    “IT HURTS!!!!” Ancer sprung up from his black leather executive chair. It was all a dream. In front of him was his computer which was showcasing Nekoto’s ecchi scene.
    “I fell asleep again….”


    535 words and 2992 characters, made by President and only member of procrastination club Ancer_nyaa

    I apologize to FlowerTradeWinds for calling FTW, I though it was funny at first. (FTW for me means Fabulous To Wonderful). Sorry, FlowerTradeWinds. Peace out

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    Re: WOW #1 March 2016


        

    The task of sorting the entries in order of preference proved to be anything but trivial. All five entries had their own style and approach, each differing from the others, necessitating a careful read to grasp all the nuances. (While touching on a related issue, I'd like to apologise that it took me two weeks into April to post this, but this contest really took me more time to assess and write about than I had expected.) I also find it interesting―though not necessarily in a positive nor negative way―that some entries had to be shortened to avoid getting past the word limit. I used to make up bedtime stories on the spot to tell my sister when we were younger, so I personally know the feel of having to shorten a plot that as you build starts feeling like it's going to be longer and more expansive than you had originally envisioned.

    Tastes will always differ and a consensus in what constitutes 'good' writing may only be as widely accepted as the influence of the group of people agreeing on said consensus. Accordingly, mine isn't an assessment devoid of sways and biases. Still, a winner must be chosen; a list of preferred entries I shall write.




    ・・・Entry of @samyeung46;

    Why I chose this as the winning entry

    Samyeung's entry has what I consider the best relevancy with the theme. It depicts not just one or two scenes, but a succession of locations and situations presented one after another, the interlocking of which gives a solid impression of a "journey". There's the feel that the main character started somewhere and went to a variety of places until she reached her destination. The narration relies primarily on well-written descriptions that, while more wordy than other entries, do their job well in depicting a circumstance of transitions from one point to another. Context is conveyed in a good balance between implications and expressions.

    Implied contexts present in the story play a role in giving a picture of the world the story is set in. For example, the last two sentences of the first paragraph imply that Chiaki lived in a walled city, or at least departed to her journey from one, which gives the image of a medieval-esque society. Displays of magical prowess in the latter part of the journey add fantasy elements to the mix. All contexts considered, the story seems to be set in a world akin to the common setting in most RPGs.

    Expressed contexts, on the other hand, signify the changing of locations and increasing magnitude of unfamiliarity to the main character the further the journey progressed. Specifically, the beginning of the story had Chiaki located in her room or house―a safe, comfortable, familiar place, like a base camp―before she then left its comfort. While at first she was navigating through an area still familiar ("I was once again amongst the forest greenery"), soon she was leaving it to her companion to lead as they traversed through places Chiaki had never seen before ("It was quite a different experience to finally see the mansion I had only heard tales of prior") and even got to the point where the former was at the mercy of the latter as far as navigation was concerned ("She continued forward with confidence, but I would probably have gotten lost within minute").

    Finally, the use of first-person perspective serves to immerse readers better in the "journey" feel and experience throughout the story.


    What I consider its strengths

    The most obvious gleam of this entry is its resplendent use of descriptions in converting imagery into words. While I'm sure the word limit diminished the extent to which Samyeung could've written more elaborate descriptions―otherwise we may, for example, know more about Ariya's visual traits than just her hairstyle and ornament―the elaborations that constitute the storyline are generally careful and deliberate (with a few caveats; more on this below). A prominent example is the part about Chiaki and Ariya visiting their guild prior to embarking on their journey, a side event that may appear inconsequential but acts as a counter to the first paragraph―wherein Chiaki left her place with seemingly minimal preparations―by providing Chiaki and Ariya a chance to get supplies for their days-long journey.

    Another virtue of this entry is its coherent flow, with each change of event clearly denoted. Paragraphs align orderly to show the transition from Chiaki's home city, then the forest wherein she met Ariya, the guild, Ariya's clan's mansion, the arcane library (not something that significantly affects my judgement, but just as a side note, I love those things), the sealed realm, and finally Ariya's secret chamber. As I touched on a bit three paragraphs prior, I find the transition from one location to another fascinating with its decreasing degree of unfamiliarity and increasing degree of mystique.

    Last but not least, while not faultless ("The seconds tick away ever so slowly..."; "...I glanced over to the pocket watch laying on the pillow..."; and probably more), it's very nice that the myriad of visual descriptions in this story are penned with mostly prim and proper grammar.


    What I consider its weaknesses

    I understand that "[t]he setting is actually based off [Samyeung's] larger story", but some parts of the story kind of give me the impression that the entry itself, and not just the setting, is entirely part of Samyeung's larger story. Just to be clear, I'm not saying or even implying that Samyeung did a lazy man's work here, but I'd venture to say that some precautions could've been taken to avoid making it look like the entry is an excerpt.

    Chiefly, the phrase "another request" instead of simply "a request" in "[Ariya] had been working on another request" implies that this wasn't the first time Ariya had to do a favour for someone; however, nothing is implied nor expressed in the story that can give readers a peek into Ariya's background. Not that it's necessary for the story, of course, especially considering the word limit, but I think a few word changes here and there could've closed the hole, such as "[Ariya] had been working on a(nother) task assigned to her by the guild", keeping in mind that there already exists a premise that both Ariya and Chiaki are associated with a guild (presumably of adventurers, mercenaries, or artisans). Otherwise, the original sentence leaves open common questions such as what request, whose request and, of course, why does it matter.

    That part is a precursor to what I see as a discrepancy within the first three paragraphs. I can overlook the letter Chiaki had with her as it doesn't seem to be from Ariya announcing her visit ("...I first discovered it, all those years ago"), but Chiaki was supposedly waiting for Ariya's visit ("The seconds tick away ever so slowly, marking the time until her arrival"), non? It makes sense that Chiaki decided to proactively seek out Ariya after the night had passed without Ariya appearing, and it also fits that the reason Ariya hadn't come is because she was tired in the midst of taking care of a (re)quest and had fallen asleep in the forest, but why did Chiaki's narration then say that Ariya "simply came by on her way home"?

    Alternatively, while I could interpret this as Ariya originally wanting to "simply c[o]me by" to Chiaki's place while en route home after finishing a (re)quest, at which point Ariya's exhaustion took its toll and she had to rest in the forest, it still conflicts with the first paragraph depicting Chiaki uneasily waiting for Arika's visit. Unless, of course, the letter Chiaki held at the start of the story was from Ariya informing her imminent visit. However, Chiaki's gestures strongly implied it was anything but a simple letter informing the imminent visit of a friend. Plus, if Ariya had sent a letter to Chiaki to inform Chiaki of her visit, then it wasn't a matter of "simply c[o]m[ing] by". Then there's Chiaki's monologue saying that she "first discovered it, all those years ago"... unless "it" here actually refers to the moon. In any case, I think I'm excessively ruminating on this part, and I'm sure it doesn't bode well that the winning entry has many more lines critical of it than praising it.

    However, Ignis is as Ignis does, and Ignis must touch on just one more issue: the way Ariya's name was introduced. This probably has something to do with the fact that the entry is part of a larger story, and I can understand the switch from using female pronouns to "Ariya" to distinguish her from the guardian spirit and avoid confusing readers with two "she"s, but it feels like the timing was premature to start referring to the guardian spirit with female pronouns. Normally, you would refer to "a small purple flame" in "a small purple flame zipped toward Ariya, complaining about her boredom" with an "it", especially when there's already a "she" in the same sentence referring to Ariya ("She had just set aside her bag..."). The act of referring to the spirit with female pronouns could've instead started after the mention of her fairy appearance, as the phrases "purple flame" and "guardian spirit" don't immediately convey a feminine image. Consequently, Ariya's name could've been revealed as early as when Chiaki found her in the forest or even not revealed at all.

    On the whole, the storytelling gives me an overall impression of generally careful writing. Everything I consider a miss, as outlined above, seems to stem from the fact that the entry is part of a larger story. I acknowledge that I may appear to be too fixated on Samyeung's own statement on this, but I think it actually provides a better explanation for the misses, as otherwise they'd merely represent less careful deliberations on the writer's part.






    ・・・Entry of @JaxxBlaxx;

    Why I chose this as the runner-up

    I see Jaxx's story as a depiction of a different kind of "journey". Interpretations may differ, but to me, the "journey" as conveyed in the story isn't the one with all the people leaving the place bereft of freedom they lived in. The "journey" here is the protagonist's progression, or transformation if you would, into an entity that, whilst a static object, was capable of feeling the pain and suffering of others. The protagonist―Porta Inferi, shall we call him―was supposed to be an entity whose very raison d'être was to act as an obstacle, an entity magical in nature yet supposedly capable of only receiving and enforcing orders. Unwittingly, he succumbed to emotional turbulences of grief, regret, fear, disappointment, and all sorts of agony emanating from everyone around him such that he was perverted into having sympathy and probably even empathy for the very people "he" was supposed to thwart.

    Like Samyeung's entry (as well as Pingtoryan's), Jaxx's story is presented in a first-person perspective, which probably is a given for this kind of plot twist. It also has a fair balance between implied and written expressions. Judging by how Porta Inferi went through his "journey" experience as if he were looking at―or, more exactly, hoping for―a brave new world ("The adults were constantly talking of a world beyond the facility that they used to live in; they called it a ‘utopia’ [...] thus I seek for it"), it can probably be concluded that this was the first time Porta Inferi was able to resonate with the anguish of the people whose hopes he crushed.

    I would thus venture to assume that a young man, naïve and unexposed to the world at large, joined the group of people trying to get past the gate, himself becoming the catalyst that made the very gate that is his hurdle capable of empathic resonance. His was likely a new, different kind of existence in the group of people Porta Inferi had grown accustomed to obstructing. While the minds of the people before him were likely fixated on breaking free from the confines of the gate, our―well, my―hypothetical lad had with him naïveté and lack of knowledge of what he even wanted to see beyond the gate, a perk that would have Porta Inferi see through the lad's eyes as if Porta Inferi were part of the community to begin with.

    Regardless of whether the existence or non-existence of such a character―whose presence or lack thereof was never even acknowledged―was within authorial intent, I can't deny that I explored out of my own fascination the idea of a character so vague his very being was engraved into letters not even once throughout the entire story.


    What I consider its strengths

    While not a totally unexpected plot twist, it nonetheless was the first thing that reeled me in. Initially, I considered two possible interpretations of the true nature of the "gate". The first is that he had actually been one of the people kept within the confines of "the facility", made into "the entity which hand[ed] over justice to those who escape[d] from [it]" through certain circumstances. This fits nicely with the "you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain" narrative. The second interpretation is what I outlined above, that Porta Inferi had always been a "gate"―whether literally or metaphorically―who then changed through a young man's naïveté; hereafter better understood as purity of the mind.

    Where the richness of Samyeung's visual descriptions conjures up the scenes the characters go through as the story progresses, Jaxx's story, by the virtue of leaving some parts open to individual interpretations, allows for a more imaginative take at the behest of the reader without necessarily having loopholes. The story also has just the right amount of dialogues; enough to signify Porta Inferi's interactions with the (perceived) world around him, while still leaving most of the rest to monologues and asides.


    What I consider its weaknesses

    Good thing Jaxx had revised the entry before the round came to a close, or the previously-excessive use of dashes would've been the first nit I would've picked. With that out of the way, there's no glaring hole to criticise. There's some vagueness in the transition between the third and fourth paragraphs, though: it appears that, upon reaching the "gate", the group's attempt to escape was met with violence, which resulted in them fainting or coming close to it ("...it was taking my very all even to stay conscious from the blow"). However, there may be an unexplained titbit: overwhelmed by curiosity, the boy―if we go along with my interpretation that such an unsung character existed―"slipped past the tall figures in front of" him, something that then "overc[a]me [his] whole self" with despair.

    Based on the structure and placement of the clauses, I think it fair to conclude that the boy's despair stemmed from his decision to let curiosity get the better of him and keep advancing, probably in spite of the others stopping. The boy probably felt regret and/or despair out of such thoughts as "why did I do this?" and "I should've known better", but if his despair was borne out of the (presumed) violence he was subject to as a response to him advancing despite being told to stop, it doesn't seem like this despair held much significance for the rest of the story (contrary to the way it's written). It also seems to contradict the lad's purported personality; young as he was, he resolutely embarked on a journey to find out what he didn't have despite having his needs covered "back there". This is strengthened by the fact that he remained stout and relatively spirited compared to the others even after he had collapsed for quite long due to the "blow". I think it unlikely that he would've stopped before even reaching the gate had he just known that he'd be smacked unconscious.

    Speaking of our dear protagonist, though, I must also zoom in on the way his "master" called his name. I understand that "porta inferi" more or less means "gate of hell", but the lack of capitalisation initially made me read the way Porta Inferi's master called him as if "porta inferi" were an expression of some sort (compare, for example, with "Return, tout de suite; I need you to halt another wave of exodus in a different place.") instead of a name. Of course, I suppose this could also be interpreted to mean that our Porta Inferi wasn't unique, but one of many, and that his master was addressing him with his title ("Be mindful, mage. You are tolerated here, but we catch you practise magick and off to the river you go." vs. "Be mindful, Crowley. You are tolerated here, but we catch you practise magick and off to the river you go.") rather than name, hence the lack of capitalisation.

    All things considered, these are pretty minor nits to pick out of the story as a whole.





    ・・・Entry of @Rain Summerfields;

    What I consider its strengths

    The story is unique in pretty much all regards. In terms of writing style, it's penned in a rather different way not everyone can imitate. While I think this kind of style has its drawbacks in this kind of environment (more on this below), it fits pretty well with the overall feel of the story, which to me kind of reads like a tribute to someone or someones personified as the "wealthy warrioress" known as Audhild Johansen. Rain's own professed love for Nordic stuff and dark metal seems to support my assumption.

    This may be largely a weeaboo forum, but nobody said that entries had to correspondingly have an anime-, manga- or game-esque theme. And Rain delivered just that: a theme focused on dark metal and Nordic cultural aspects; a tributary story focused on a personage rather than chains of events; a stage set in the cold reaches of Scandinavia rather than a world resembling (pseudo-)medieval western Europe. To top it all off, there's a fairly rich amount of sophisticated word choices―I particularly like such phrases as "murderous heathenism"―with which the story is delivered.


    What I consider its weaknesses

    The way the story is written resembles more a storyteller verbally recounting a story she had previously composed rather than a short story or a book in a written form. The most striking trait is, of course, the use of line breaks rather than normal spaces to separate sentences. I understand that this is part of the writer's style, and a writer deserves the choice of not following conventional ortography―after all, e e cummings was well known for his unconventional capitalisation―but coupled with the way Rain split some sentences as well as the overall structuring and composition, the story as a whole stands between prose and a form of poetry.

    This is apparent right from the first sentences. Such sentences as "Throughout the darkness, when all, but the roaring winds remained still" and the two other immediately following it, for example, are fragments lacking the wherewithal to stand by themselves. They lack independent clauses, except maybe for the third sentence ("Lived a warrior, a queen in the making"), and themselves resemble separate causes that should instead be united. Several of the sentences split as Rain separated them would make proper sentences if they were merged together. While sentence fragments could be passable if they contextually corresponded to the sentence(s) preceding them, such as how the sentence "A much needed wake up call to a deeper presence" relates directly to the one before it, it requires that the sentence(s) the fragments correspond to be proper sentences with at least one independent clause.

    Finally, the way Rain listed Audhild's band members, or "comrades in arms" as they were referred to in the story, is probably the part that feels most unlike a prose while not much resembling poetry either. It's written in a way similar to expository narrative in non-fictional writing―also, while this is getting outside nitpicking on writing style and into the territory of grammar and punctuation, the list comes after a full stop, not a colon, despite being written in such a way―which breaks the already-brittle structure of narration. All in all, I realise that it may sound like I'm just making a fuss over substitutions of commas with full stops and spaces with line breaks. I also fully acknowledge that the overall style and fragmentation might do okay if it were poetry of a free verse kind.





    ・・・Entry of @pingtoryan;

    What I consider its strengths

    It's quite bizarre, and I don't mean it in a negative way. One of the (many) feats I consider a real challenge to accomplish is writing something that is somehow bizarre but still manages to hold together (or, taking it to the next level, writing something largely comprising nonsense but still manages to tell a story, like Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky). The entire timeline within the story feels very fast and all the events occur in a quick succession. Everything is a prelude to the conclusive part of the story―the destruction of the Pingtorians' realm at the hands of Lucius―interspersed with dialogues between the protagonist and the Duke. In this story, there are two separate perspectives to the "journey" element; the protagonist's time in the academy of the Pingtorians briefly alluded to as part of the background story and their life after Lucius had destroyed the realm of the Pingtorians.

    Just like Rain's entry, wherein Audhild's "journey" really began past the events told in it, the protagonist in Pingtoryan's story seemed like he was due for something bigger than everything that had occurred, as Lucius' foresight had foretold that "[their] mess [would] spill into [the protagonist's] realm". (Amusingly, what the protagonist remarked as "extremely prophetic" is Lucius' promise of attending the protagonist's future wedding, not the part where Lucius prophesied the certainty with which the Pingtorians' "mess" would spill over into the protagonist's realm, which meant the protagonist would then have to use everything at their disposal they'd learnt during their time with the Pingtorians to "right them all". Coupled with the protagonist's vision of a little girl armed and armoured in Lucius' likeness, I wonder if the Duke was foretelling himself in the "wedding"... only in a different form.)


    What I consider its weaknesses

    A good balance between dialogues and monologues narratives is good; however, consecutive dialogues in an exchange between characters should be written with extra care to avoid confusing readers. There's a shortage of accompaniments to direct dialogues, such as "I said" or "said Lucius", that could have better helped readers understand who said what. In this case, it's not really confusing as there are only two characters actively involved in dialogues throughout the story and a low amount of dialogues―though I'd argue that, comparatively speaking, they still account for a fair percentage of the story―but in a scene with three or more characters, it could get confusing if the characters spoke without particularity (or peculiarity, if you would) that would make it easier to identify whom each line belongs to.

    This is exacerbated in the sentence that follows the last dialogue the protagonist had in the story ("The last part of his sentence sounded extremely prophetic to me"), the placement of which seems to suggest that it was remarking the dialogue immediately preceding it. This is something that could be alleviated by any number of ways, such as by putting the monologue in a new paragraph or, if Pingtoryan didn't feel right having a paragraph containing only a single-line monologue and nothing else, by rewriting the sentence to somehow connect to the preceding dialogue (which is said by the protagonist), such as "I felt a weird surge of confidence as I said that, as if I knew for sure that it would happen, in part because the last part of his sentence sounded extremely prophetic to me" or something similar. Finally, some dialogues lack any closing punctuation, such as a full stop or a comma.

    On to a more holistic observation: in relation to the theme, the story lacks explicit, written representation of a "journey". While I acknowledge the possible interpretations of two different journeys as I explored four paragraphs prior, the actual events in the story are set in a timeline between those two journeys. The summoning of the protagonist back to the realm of the Pingtorians; its destruction at the hands of Lucius; the subsequent witnessing of it by the protagonist. All of those happened after the protagonist had finished their first "journey" into the realm (at which time they were enrolled into the Pingtorians' "academy") but before the protagonist's "journey" back in their own world―presumed dead and without legal identification―wherein they might have to use their otherworldly powers to "right" all the "mess" from the realm of the Pingtorians. (For comparison: in Rain's story, while Audhild's journey looked like it was set to begin past the story itself, her efforts to establish her band could reasonably be considered a "journey" in the broader sense.)





    ・・・Entry of @ancer_nyaa;

    Why this didn't earn a higher position

    In a vacuum, Ancer's story would've been a decent read. Don't get me wrong: it is. It's a simple story involving several of the forum's better-known members, and who doesn't like having herself alluded to in an entertaining fiction? There are other entries to compare against, however, and while probably unfortunate to Ancer, the varying degrees of excellence in which they appeared proved superior, at least to my eyes. This shouldn't be interpreted to mean that Ancer's entry is the "worst" out of the five, as that would presuppose that "bad" entries exist. This only means that we had five satisfactory entries and that in my eyes―the partial, biased eyes of a human being―the virtues of Ancer's entry are extolled not as much as the other four. That's it. Nothing more, nothing less.


    What I consider its strengths

    It's a light-hearted story that's easy to digest. Amidst the strong theme of agony and despair in Jaxx's story as well as destruction in Pingtoryan's story, Ancer wrote something that, while not featuring peaceful prairies wherein unicorns prance about, is comparatively lighter and more relaxed. The use of forum members as characters no doubt helped contribute to this imagery. A story you could relate to―'self-insert', if you would―tends to be easier to read even if you don't visualise each and every event related to your personified character in detail.

    As I said earlier in the discussion thread, I find the references pretty funny, especially Corocoro, who was apparently "known for [...] having quite a cute name". It's probably also the first time I see Checkmate being semi-humorously referred to without mentions of his transcendent extent of pervertedness. The part where Ancer had to show his passport to proceed is also personally amusing to me. I've had to explain quite a few times how basic web mechanisms like cookies and credentials work, and I'm not sure if my every explanation managed to make the other party understand. I think I could make an analogy out of Ancer showing his passport to explain all those things.


    What I consider its weaknesses

    There are instances resembling breaking the fourth wall, even if they come from the omniscient narrator and not the characters, but they feel more like careless deliberations and not something written for the very purpose of making a meta-reference. All three instances of parenthesis use are something that shouldn't be present in prose; they have their place in expository writing and other genres of non-fiction as well as general chats where you're speaking as yourself and not as a narrator telling the story of fictional characters, but they can disintegrate the―for want of a better word―cohesion one would expect to see in prose.

    The only relatively innocuous use of parentheses is perhaps the first one ("He is alone in his journey though"). The second one ("Big Guys or Girls, I don’t know") personifies the omniscient narrator and brings it into being by the use of a first-person pronoun, "I", making the narrator have some sort of representation and maybe even a personality―as expressed in its doubt over whether the "four pillars" consist of just girls, just guys, or both―rather than just a passive storyteller who only tells the story from a third-person perspective. The third instance ("her?"―for the record, Girlcelly is a he) is arguably the most striking, as it gives the appearance of a story that hadn't been proofread carefully enough prior to submission. The use of "they" to refer to a person whose gender is unknown is valid. Alternatively, you could rewrite the sentence to avoid having to refer to Girlcelly with a third-person pronoun (there are a few examples on that Wikipedia page).

    For the plot itself, while a fun light read, using a dream (or the waking of a character from one) to end a story is a highly overused trope that in some instances may even feel like a deus ex machina because a dream can explain away all the absurdity a character encountered within and pull them out of any kind of danger in the last minute. This particular instance doesn't rise to that level; however, it still gives a rather 'easy' way of ending the story. A myriad of endings could've been made use of instead, such as Ancer choosing to retreat but vowing that he'd never stop trying until he successfully defeated the "four pillars".



    I'm glad to see that some entrants had to shorten their entry and considered 1000 words a low limit. I wrote apparently over 5000 words for this post.
        




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