2017 Halloween Writing Contest
Offering the Quest
This year, I will be hosting a Halloween-themed writing contest. You have until ** MIDNIGHT CENTRAL STANDARD TIME ON OCTOBER 31ST ***to submit your entries. Entries should be emailed to me at CORDIR@TFCMUD.COM. They will then be posted to the Immortal Forums with no author attribution (for blind judging) and voted on. The winner will be announced on or before November 3rd.
***ENTRIES THAT DO NOT MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS BELOW WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.***
Size: Minimum of 500 words.
Topic: Any of these: Fear / Loss / Death / Mourning
Participation: Only one entry per *character*. You must state which character each submission belongs to.
Spelling and grammar are important and will affect your score.
Entries will be posted to the wiki.
1st place: 500,000 gold and a 3 Quest Point voucher, and a restring of my design, inspired by your writing.
2nd place: 250,000 gold and a 2 Quest Point voucher, and a restring of my design, inspired by your writing.
3rd place: 150,000 gold, and a 1 quest point voucher, and a restring of my design, inspired by your writing.
He walked with timid trepidation through the courtyard. The sort of cavalier jaunt that wreaked of both apprehension and apathy. The sun was solemn in the distance, seemingly an omen of the times. He abruptly stopped again, as if fighting a tumultuous storm within that wouldn’t allow him to reach his destination.
A familiar voice tantalized his senses from within. A wicked plight, tempting and tormenting the prospect of reason.
“No...” The half-elven nobody reminded the air, his breathing husky, not paced.
He took another step. Then another. His slender figure waved ungraceful in the air as it moved, as if an apparition waving in a sad wind.
Now a storm brewed in the distance. The shamed sun gave way to the elements in final anticipation of his return. He stopped again, this time not at the behest of the inner demons he fought, but for he reached his destination. Or was it?
A surge moved through his body, his youth resurrected as if only for a moment. A boyish smile found his lips while his innocent eyes crept over the doorway he now stood before. In the midst of it all, he sang.
Now and forever
See me this way
Now and forever
Gone is the darkness
Please let it rain
Please let me stay here
Death I became
Gone and away
Now I am youth
Death did not stay
Now and forever
See me this way
Now and forever
His voice trailed off slowly, but the warmness of his elven dialect lingered in the air like the smell of honey. It was never his intention to enter the place before him now. His pilgrimage. His struggle. His revival and resurgence were his true destination. Even as his party surely awaited him beyond the entrance to this shine, he was not ready yet to meet their gaze. That moment would be perfect in time. Perfect…in time, he assured himself.
As he turned to leave, he carefully retrieved a small, folded piece of parchment from a worn, burlap bag and placed it delicately at the temple entryway. He slowly nodded towards its placement, as if admiring a small detail that was otherwise inconsequential. Now, he left.
…. a gentle wind played at the material of the parchment after the half-elf departed. Slowly, methodically and entirely at the hand of the elements the fold was resolved, revealing the contents on the parchment, scribbled in beautiful elven calligraphy;
“I have returned. Not the evil, cruel parasite that you have stared into. I have truly regained the essence of myself again. Me. Rest assured I am no longer the boy you once knew. I have seen hell. I have smelled the dying and heard their cries. I know their suffering and they know mine. Alas, I fought. I struggled and I crawled through myself to return to you whole and new. I leave you this message as for no reason than to let you know that I find myself well again. While our paths do not cross now, they shall when the time is right. I still have much work to do to make it right. To earn your trust and respect again. I shall. For when I do, I will enter these great doors, I will bow before your countenance and marvel. I will be home and I will be happy. Thank you and rest patient. I will see you soon, my Queen, beautiful Darkclaw...”
The elegant ebony and silver-embossed invitation has the faint scent of a midnight fragrance. I have been cordially invited to a Halloween extravaganza, hosted by Lady Cordir at the Villa En'Asni. "Costume Required" was in bold silver print at the bottom of the invitation. I sighed loudly, Miss Diary. What happened to costume-optional? I considered whining about it in the Guild Hall, but instead, I asked for costume recommendations. Harland suggested a giant piece of candy corn. Orange isn't my best color, though. Boromir's idea of a fluffy, white bunny intrigued me, so I headed to the weaver shop in Riverhold to help me create the masterpiece. Her prices are much more reasonable than Jaymes' at the Adventurer's Inn.
"It's the afternoon of the party and I just picked up my costume. It's adorable! So fluffy white, with a big puffy tail, and these awesome pink and white bunny ears. The bloody claws and blood-spattered shoes add a nice touch, I think. I can't wait to show it off. And I don't care what Zhou thinks, I'm not wearing the beard. But yet, this is the first Halloween without Her. I'm not sure tonight will be as fun as I hope it to be.
"Wow, I have SO much to tell you Miss Diary! As the sun was setting yesterday, I traveled to Midgaard to trick or treat with some of the children, and we had a great time. But, the guards soon recognized me and ruined my trick-or-treating fun. Such party poopers they are. It's not fair that Marian can dress up and trick or treat without incident - he actually looks like a baby serial killer - so why am I singled out?! No matter, the party was about to start.
"The Villa lawn was impeccably decorated with jack-o-lanterns, glittering spider webs, and a small graveyard filled with creepy tombstones. I think I saw my name on one of them ... so NOT funny. As I stepped through the threshold, my breath was taken away by the beauty of the decor. Boromir greeted me, dressed as a foaming beer mug, and handed me a smoking cup of something. I thanked him and he said he was happy I chose the bunny costume. I am too. As I scanned the guests, I couldn't help but gossip about some of the costumes. Boromir laughed; and even if he denies it later, he did agree with me on my assessments. I spotted Tynian first - how could I not - he was painted blue and wore a red hat. I had no idea what *that* crazy costume could be. Our hostess, Cordir, looked beautiful in a flowing floor-length silver gown, decorated with ebony spider webs on the sleeves and bodice. Thor, dressed as a giant bowl of carb-filled ramen noodles, was definitely amusing. I didn't see Tokugawa, but I sensed a great disturbance in the force so I knew he was there lurking in the shadows. Harland was over by the dessert table, dressed as a giant piece of candy corn, shoveling candy into his mouth. Even if he probably can't get a stomach ache anymore, I still wished for it.
"As more guests arrived, I glanced outside to the lawn and almost dropped my drink. I saw Her, walking on the grass, looking as radiant as ever in the moonlight. I ran outside as She floated past the gate. "Wait! Come back!" I shouted, but She must not have heard me. I flew as quickly as I could but I lost sight of her near Aran. I knew where to go though. I was so excited I got lost in the Dark Forest area, running straight into the dullahan. He scares me to death, so I bolted out of the area and my awesome bunny ears fell off! I debated leaving them for a split second, but they're so cute. I ran back, and right before the dullahan could snatch my bunny ears, I grabbed them and ran. He freaked me out so much, I must have run in the wrong direction. I stumbled into the witches, and asked if they saw Her pass by. They looked deep into their cauldron, pointed in the direction I needed to go, and I thanked them. What a crazy Halloween so far.
"I was in Sanguinna in a matter of seconds. Underneath the tree, I waited patiently. I knew She would come to me. I adjusted my bunny ears; I was excited but a little nervous. Suddenly, I felt an ice cold hand upon my shoulder, but it radiated the warmth of friendship. "You saw Her too," the Elder said. We both stood there and waited for Her. "I like your costume," he said, while staring straight ahead. "I like yours too," I replied. "I'm not wearing one," was his response. Oh. So AWKWARD. But it’s not like I ever get to *see* him, since he’s always hiding or invisible or in darkness. A few seconds passed, then an annoyingly familiar voice spoke from the shadows. "Greetings. I, too, saw my Queen." Oh Geeeez, it's HIM. I rolled my eyes at the interloper, but surely if we were all here, She was definitely going to appear. Then, Sandman walked up to us, and Sparhawk strolled in leisurely, saying, "Whazzup!" Aphelion flew in with Oaliega, Tirpitz, and Avoozl. Anima whispered sweet words of murder in my ear. I giggled, and glanced up to the heart of the tree. I caught a glimpse of Drakar. He winked at me, and whispered, "I like your puffy tail." Typical Drakar!
"She's here," a voice said from behind the tree. Ghazkull bowed to the group. Samiyah portaled in with Belsambar and bowed to us, standing next to Ghazkull. Laujar and Raage ran towards us, breathlessly, excitedly uttering that they saw Her. As the rest of Her Lost children and chylder gathered, She shimmered before us. Her fanged smile was exactly as I remembered. She took the time to embrace each of us, and then Lady Cordir spoke. "Welcome, to a very special Lost Halloween Party. Enjoy your time with Her, and with each other." She disappeared into the night. Refreshments suddenly dropped out of the sky. Thanks, Cordir! We spent the rest of the evening catching up with each other, eating and drinking, and spending time with the one we all love so much. It was a magical night none of us wanted to end. As the sun began to rise, I hugged Her again and She whispered that She was never far from any of us, and if I ever needed Her, just call out and She would be right by my side.
“I stopped and sat on a rotting log to write all of this down. I didn't want to forget a single second, Miss Diary. And guess what? Today, the realm seemed brighter."
The figure smiles, and closes the leather journal. The diary is then dropped where it was found ... somewhere in the Dark Forest. .. as the figure floats towards Sanguinna.
Cirth's Frightful Halloween
Based on a true story. The facts may have been altered, but the names remain unchanged.
The year is circa 1996 by the mundane calendar.
The Room of Records
Rays of morning light speared through the darkness of the great hall, making the high windows into sharp rectangles of gold. Particles of dust were turning in the light, hanging like wraiths before the plaques and framed portraits, slowly trailing a figure walking beneath the monuments. He was careful not to tread into the light, keeping to the shadow granted by the eastern wall. His slow pace was often interrupted by long pauses in apparent contemplation. In the gloom it was hard to tell whether it was the historical artifacts or his internal dialogue that caused the pauses. Sometimes he would raise the piece of parchment in his left hand and note something with deft, flowing motions before continuing. His pale complexion stood in stark contrast to his dark robes and short black hair.
He had paused again under a particularly towering statue and raised his quill when he suddenly froze into motionlessness. Tilting his head he lowered the parchment and peered into the darkness where a boot was protruding from between the avian legs of the sculpture.
"Hh-hrm", he coughed, tucking the tools of his trade away. The boot remained still. This was supposedly a safe haven, but people had been known to try to hide bodies in worse places. After a brief moment of hesitation he took a step forward and kicked it.
The boot came to life and the voice of a young woman called, "I'm awake! I'm up!"
A nest of copper curls emerged and below them a pair of energetic blue eyes that peered up at him. She flashed a smile before stretching her arms wide and threw back her head in a big yawn. Her green shirt was rumpled and two sheathed rapiers lay at her side.
Taken aback the pale skinned man exclaimed, "What are you doing here?"
"Why, I was sleeping of course", she said pulling on her other boot. It was a mismatched in color and slightly taller than the other one.
"This is a museum, and that's the statue of the Madman", he said incredulous, adding, "The Destroyer. The God of Torture and Insanity Personified!"
"It's my favorite spot in here", she said. "They make me feel really safe, you know, the wings. Like he's protecting me", she added with a confiding smile, holding out her arms in a protective circle.
There was a moment of silence when they stared at each other, his mind racing for the correct social protocol, and her smiling expectantly. He had the unnerving feeling that he recognized her, but couldn't quite place her face.
"You're Cirth", she suddenly proclaimed, making his name echo through the hall. "I didn't recognize you at first, standing in the shadow and all. But I guess you have to, right? But on the bright side I guess you don't have to sleep. Palmer told me he doesn't at least."
Cirth groaned internally at the mention of Palmer. A more reckless and dishonorable man was hard to come by. He could not fathom why Lord Khore had embraced him. Still uncomfortable with the whole situation he started, quite uncharacteristically, babbling, "Ah, yes. That is correct. Although we do rest from time to time. It's a process called..."
He made himself stop. He shook his head ever so slightly and said, "Please, forgive me. How very rude. You seem to have me at a disadvantage. I am indeed Cirth, Scribe of the Kindred. And you must be...", he faltered hoping for her to save him.
She leaned forward, her blue eyes almost sparkling. "We have met you know", she said and continued, "In the Adventurers Guild. I was chasing Palmer and he tossed this at you." She produced a jaunty straw hat and placed it on her curls. It somehow managed to hiss at him, sounding very much like an annoyed cat.
"That thing bit through my shirt", he said with a frown, then his face lit up.
"You're Corri", he said, very pleased with himself that he remembered.
"The one and only. Thanks for waking me up", she said with an impish grin. Grabbing her rapiers and her backpack she turned to leave, but seemed to change her mind.
"What are you doing in here? You clearly not here to take a nap", she said.
"No, most certainly not", he said raising an eyebrow in disapproval. "I was contemplating. I find that the great beings and events before us helps clear my mind", he added and swept his arm to encompass all the artifacts around them.
"Ok, great. Are you done?", she inquired.
"What? No, why?", he said. He had in fact been contemplating for considerable amount of time since he became a Kindred. Immortality seemed to lend itself well to long bouts of introspection.
"Because today's Halloween", she exclaimed, looking at him expectantly like she just revealed a gift wrapped present.
"Yes, I'm well aware of that some cultures celebrate the 'All Hallowed's Eve' tonight, but I fail to the relevance of...", he started saying.
"We're going! You and me, that's perfect", she said grinning, waving her rapiers up and down with her right hand. "There's always a lot of ghost's and monsters out on Halloween, and lots of treasures to be found. And candy. Sometimes there's candy too! I know just the spot, I've been scouting it on and off since last year."
Seeing his polite, frozen smile she looked up at him with big eyes, "Oh, please - you must come. It'll be fantastic! An adventure for sure!"
"Ah, yes - adventure. There must be some misunderstanding Ms. Corri. I am Lord Khore's scribe and very busy. Very busy indeed, and I will not have time for frivolity this evening", he said uncomfortably aware of that he was babbling again. "There are in fact some pressing matters I have to attend to in the Ceremonial Room. Good day!"
And with that he walked at a brisk pace through the hall, his footsteps echoing through the hall, leaving Corri frowning at his back.
The Ceremonial Room
The midday sun glared through the mosaic windows, creating a spectacular display. The walls were painted in all the colors or the rainbow and Cirth the Scribe stood watching them play over the balustrade that encircled the centre of the room. He was just about to absently reach for his quill when a voice called out, "Quick, catch!"
He spun around in surprise and an acorn lightly struck him on his chest and fell to the floor at his feet. Corri was clambering onto the backrest of one of the many ornate chairs that populated the room. She put her bare feet on the armrests and leaned forward with her elbows on her knees. Her wet pants were dripping onto the cushioned seat beneath her. She pushed back her straw hat surveying the room.
"Busy?", she asked raising her eyebrows.
"Whatever happened to your boots?", he said pointing at her bare feet.
"They're stuck in the marsh. I had to get out quick before them Ogre's caught me, and my boots got left behind. Good pair it was too", she said although Cirth wasn't convinced a pair was an appropriate description of two so dissimilar footwear.
"I could've really used some backup", she continued. Her face lit up, "But you can make it up to me, I'm heading out again to fetch them. I'm pretty sure I know where they are. You see I was jumping down from a roof, into the mud, when they got stuck and..."
"I'm going to stop you right there Ms", Cirth said, raising his hands apologetically. "This accident is hardly my fault, and I am as you can see preoccupied. So, if you don't mind..."
"But I do mind", she interrupted. "I am very mindful", she added with wide smile.
"What are you so busy thinking about anyway", she asked tilting her head and tucking some stray copper curls behind her ear.
"Halib Ajenkars principles of life and death", he said. When met with her blank stare, he offered as explanation, "in conjunction with immortality of course. What is the point of existence when you've left the natural circle of life? Is existence for its own sake enough, or does one have a moral obligation to pursue a worthy cause? And what qualifies as a worthy cause when you can expect to pursue it forever? Or is everything in the perspective of eternity devoid of value, and in the end utterly… meaningless?"
Suddenly self-conscious he met her gaze for a second with a pained expression, before looking down at his delicate hands. Composing himself again he looked with a polite smile and said, "But I'm sure I'm boring you. Boots to fetch and all that."
She watched him intently with her sapphire eyes for a moment. Suddenly she jumped down from the chair and said with resolution, "That's it, you're coming with me! The best principle of life is living right now. Besides there's nothing to be scared of! It's better to face your fears than to live in their shadow."
His gray eyes flicked uncertainly for a heartbeat, before he donned a fragile smile and replied, "You forget that I am a creature of shadow. Now, I do have an appointment in the temple area that I need to head off to. If you excuse me I'll be on my way."
And with that he brushed past her into the hallway outside not seeing her intent stare at his back while he was leaving.
The Temple Area
In the evening gloom the temples really came to life as lanterns, smoking censers and the occasional bonfire made lit up the pillars and archways. Some worshippers had even placed candle lit Jack-o-Lanterns at the doorways. A light fog crept along the cobblestones, muffling the few sounds of the quiet evening. Sensible people were either safely locked in their homes to avoid the frightful revelry of Halloween, and the insensible people were doing whatever they were did to prepare for raving around the streets later in the evening. No doubt it included intoxicants and theatre make-up.
Cirth had just turned off the main avenue, on his back from Khore's temple, when he paused a few steps into the dim alley. Something wasn't quite right. The high walls of the surrounding temples were bearing down on him with their weight, and the shadows seem to reach for him. There was a drumming sound in the distance growing louder.
Something was approaching. Something big. The small hairs at his neck tingled and he turned to see a long shadow growing larger and larger on the fire lit street outside.
"There you are! Quick, catch!"
Cirth's heart fluttered in fright, before he realized that the figure veering into view was none other than Corri running at full speed towards him. A small object sailed through the air at his face and he caught it dumbstruck. An acorn, with a small rune painted on it.
"Hold on to that in case we're separated", said Corri.
"Here, this is for you. I saw it and thought I'd make a nice quill. You know, for scribbling with", she said and thrust something small and feathered at him before pulling a short, gnarled staff from straps on her backpack. The object in his hands was a slightly greasy orb with several long black feathers stuck into. There was a long string of beads running through it, making it look like an oversized necklace.
"Where did you...", he started saying.
"Here they come", she shouted with a chuckle. "Boy, are they mad! They really hate trick or treat it seems."
The drumming sound continued to grow and an enormous silhouette turned around the corner into the smaller passage. There was no mistaking - it was a very much alive and enraged ogre! It paused to bark a booming command over its shoulder before brandishing a spiked club over its head. Spittle flew as it screamed, "Giv't back, tree girl! Smash you dead!"
"Hold tight! This almost always works every time", she shouted and gripped Cirth by his upper arm and thumped the staff into the ground.
There was a bright, multi-colored flash as the fabric of space ripped open to create a portal, and Cirth found himself falling through it backwards as Corri pulled him after her as she jumped. The flutter in his chest turned into a rapid torrent, all principles of life and death forgotten, and he screamed from the top of his lungs, "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee..."
The Recall Room
Morning light from the narrow windows illuminate the simple room, casting the marble tiles on the wall in a pink sheen. The floor is dominated by a large, circular slab of granite grooved with archaic runes.
The faint melodious bird song that is filtering through from the garden outside is suddenly cut off by a bright red flash and a thump as Corri tumble to the floor as if having jumped off something rather high. Standing up she discards an empty glass vial from her right hand, and stare expectantly straight ahead.
Her wide grin is just about to falter, as another red flash cut through the room together with a hoarse scream as Cirth, the Scribe of the Kindred, appear kneeling in the center of the room. His left hand is pressed to the ground clutching something muddy, while his right hand is gripping an empty glass vial like his unlife depended on it. Soot covers the left side of his face, and his eyes are wide, much like that of a panicked steed.
"Cirth", she exclaims rushing forward.
"I was afraid you wouldn't make it!"
She grabs his shoulder seeking out his gaze, asking, "Are you ok?"
"...aaaaaaaaa... ah... ahh...", he utters as his scream turns into deep breaths. His eyes flicker around the room, taking in the scene before they find hers again. And he starts to laugh, a deep ringing laughter, "ah... hah... ha ha ha..."
Trying to regain his composure, but still snickering, he states with his gray eyes sparkling, "I've never been so terrified in my entire life!"
Corri chuckles and ruffles his jet-black hair and says, "Yeah, that was a good run."
"Thank you. For showing me Halloween."
"I found your boots", he says and lift the muddy bundle in his left hand.
"They were in the mud below us when we jumped, so I thought I'd make an attempt of grabbing them before recalling. They're a bit dirty though. A pity on such nice boots."
"That's so sweet! I knew we'd find them", she says and reclaim them. Wrinkling her nose she sniffs in the air and point towards his robes with a mischievous grin.
"You're a little bit on fire though."
Cursing Cirth tries to stomp out a smoldering patch at the end of his robes. Once he's confident he won't burst aflame, he stops to consider her. She's gotten her muddy boots on again and are rummaging through her backpack looking for something.
"I've lost my hat", she said. The copper curls on her head dangling as she shakes her head in disbelief.
Cirth smiles slightly, showing the tips of his fangs.
"Come on, I think I know where it is!"
The cold winds tore through the trees above my house so violently that my supper was interrupted. I had chosen this home because of the surrounding forestry that would protect my precious garden from issues such as this. After spending nearly an hour of time trying to stab my biscuits from the gravy, I became irritated and made a huge mistake by looking outside. I peered into the darkness and narrowed my sight on a large pearlescent glowing eye atop a thorn covered stem that dwarfed the bushes surrounding my home. Every step it took towards my residence, it's leaves would pummel the wind in my direction. As I looked closer examining any possibilities of defending against the plant, I noticed enormous thorns protruding from the stem. Blood dripped from them, large drops of red sunk to the ground in puddles that would swallow a pond whole. The monstrosity must have stood a good nine feet tall as it approached me. Naturally I began to run as fast as my small legs could carry me. The ground next to me was crushed as one of the green tentacles came smashing down. The creature hastily catching up to me bellowed "I Want to Suck Your Blood!". Quickly I retorted with "Find something bigger.".
Fast was not fast enough as the towering flower reached down and scooped me up. I might have screamed a tiny bit as I was approaching it's enormous fangs. I knew if I did not use the wiggle & gnaw technique, I would not escape. Luckily with a little more gnaw than I was accustom to, I was able to escape. I spit the chunk of the plant into my waist pouch and hurried into a neighborhood foxhole. I hurried to the end but my leg was sliced into by one of the thorns adorning the vines that hung from this god-like creature. The tunnel crushing in behind me only caused more panic, but fear drove me to escape anyway. My jaw was sore from chewing into the beast causing screams to be too painful to emit. I knew the area well though, so I knew that the dwarven tunnels although being dangerous was the fastest escape from nearby orcs.
I reached the entrance of the cave in time to seek help from the guards. I was rushed to the infirmary where the dwarves began making an anti-toxin from the plant piece that I had obtained earlier. Once the anti-venom had been administered they went right to work on the rest of my injuries. Pain tore through my thigh as they removed the thorn pieces from my leg and stiched the skin back together. The scent of blood radiated from my bed, when suddenly screams of the guards echoed throughout the halls. The pain was so severe I was fading in and out of consciousness, while the sentries cries became louder as the deaths became closer. The guard captain came to my bedside during a barely conscious moment to alert me that the beast had begun to infest the caves with its talonous vines. The citizens and all of the wounded were escorted to a nearby tunnel by the closest guards. The tentacles began tearing members from amongst our group as we approached the hidden exit. The thorns devoured the walls as the vines crawled through. The remaining survivors made it through the doorway safely. Behind us the barrier slammed shut and was barred by some of the stronger dwarves, sealing the monstrosity on the other side. We pushed forward leaving the memories behind us, now safe from the grasp of the creature that destroyed the homes of so many. Moonlight dawned upon us as we reached the surface, the refreshing air pushed the sadness from my face in one blissful gust. We sat around a fire that night eating biscuits and gravy, each recalling our own versions of the incident. I could not take a bite of the once delicious food even though we had reached safety, and still to this day I cannot taste the flavors of my once favorite dish. However, that night I came to a realization that even in the most prickly situations, people can find their way out of the woods. Our band of survivors gave the creature a name that night; a name that will be entangled in my memories forever...The Star of the Night.