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 Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story

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King Azreth
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PostSubject: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:51 pm

THIS IS A PERSONAL SHORT STORY BY ME, UNDER THE PEN-NAME CHRIS WESTWIND.

Please do not post, edit, copy, or change any of the following content without express and previous permission by Azzy. Doing so WILL result in legal action, as all work is protected under Copyright, 2O13.

If I've asked you to read and edit this work, PLEASE make corrections / changes like so:
Please do NOT write over the original text, as I will misspell on purpose in rare circumstances. And never, EVER change the structure / order of sentences or paragraphs. Change it in a different color, but NEVER TOUCH THE ORIGINAL.

ORIGINAL TEXT:

"altais luaghed, throwing his hands upto the skies, blue eyes gleaming behind the silk blindfold"

CORRECTED TEXT:

"altais [ Altais ] luaghed [ laughed ] , throwing his hands upto [ up to ] the skies, blue eyes gleaming behind the silk blindfold [ blindfold. ]"  [ Suggestions / Comments / Questions Go Here. ]


Last edited by King Azreth on Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:56 pm



A pure white tower rose six hundred feet into the dreary morning, stained-glass windows glowing in the thin light of the sun.The tower was the only thing in the dreary light that loomed over the four-hundred foot walls holding the city captive within. A deep bell resounded once, twice, thrice, nine times, marking the hour of yet another hopeless day. A stone figure hunched over the highest point of the tower, swathed in alabaster robes, granite cowl pulled over his face to hide his features. The figure had his hand extended out into the open air, larger-than-life fingers splayed, as if reaching out to pass judgment on the damned city beneath him. Rosy pinks and deep blues painted the stone man from the stained-glass of the bell tower, and these were the only colors to be found inside those tall walls of the massive city.

Corsairh spread out below the highest point of the church tower, with the statue of Ervael, the Face of Choice, watching Corsairh’s citizens make wrong decisions. The city itself,  a congealed mess of black and grey; ash, dirt, and filth coated every surface of every building. The tall tower and its God overlooking the city were the only things unsullied by the hands of filth; it alone shone white against the dreary grime of the sea-side town.

Out where the stones lay like bones by the raging waters of the sea, out where the waves crashed contempt on the land, bloated corpses of unwanted beings, both man and beast, washed up on shore. The waves struggling onto the debris-ridden sands were choked with trash, and a thin layer of oil shimmered dangerously on the surface of the water. The water itself was a cold, hard grey; a dangerous color. The waters were infested with nothing that was worth catching, nothing to promote trade, nothing to risk your life trying to get.

The only trade to be found within its walls was hopelessness, destitution, and crime. And trade certainly prospered in Corsairh.

The cries of men and women, children and animals could be heard even from the top of the tower. They filtered through the hazy, smoke-leaden air, rising up and up, hundreds of feet to where the great tower made its home in the sky. From this height, grown men were little more than ants, and one could see the crimes and murders unfold, as if they were small parts in a play. The marble visage of Ervael watched everything, everything, without expression; he had given the people the power of Choice, and the stone deity would watch in silence.

The stench of Corsairh was appalling; it smelled of urine and sweat, blood and shit, decay and rotting fish. To Altais, it was the best smell in the world.  Altais stood beside the stone figure of Ervael, leaning his shoulder against the marble cloak whipping in some nonexistent wind. This bedraggled city hadn’t seen a breath of fresh air in at least half a century. But this city was, and forever would be, Altais’ home. And he loved it; he adored the chaos of Corsairh, the absolute certainty of Corsairh’s people that if they didn't fight to live, then they would be dead on the morrow.

There was no such thing as working together in this rotten place; if anyone offered to help you, they wanted something from you. If you didn't give it to them then they would take it, and take your life along with it as well. Corsairh was a haven for Altais; if there was a paradise in this world then this city of murderers and thieves, of beggars and of whores was certainly it. The man inhaled deeply, reveling in the gagging smell rising from the streets far below.

This far south there was no King, there was no law. The only law you followed in Corsairh was the one that would keep you alive. And there were no restrictions to that law. If you had to kill to gain a coat, then you killed. If you had to rape to slake your desire, then you raped. If you had to steal to eat, you stole.

It was so simple, so beautiful. To survive, you were forced to make the worst possible decisions. To survive, you had to accept the demons and shadows living within your own breast, your own heart. You had to push aside all sense of humanity, all sense of morality, all sense of self.

The only constant in this sick town was the chaos, the hopelessness, the crime.  A smile stretched Altais’ lips, and with a laugh he turned from looking out over the city. This was his place, his home. This decrepit city had made him who he was, had given him the knowledge that there was no good in people, no reason to trust, no reason to help.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
❤❤



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:13 pm



I  padded down the winding stairs of the tower, grey blindfold firmly in place over my eyes. To any who saw me in passing, I knew that I appeared completely blind. However in reality, I could actually see perfectly well through the mottled grey silk. The blindfold painted the already monotonous city in grays and blacks. Because of that, even the steaming blood on the cold, cracked cobblestones was just a wet, grey part of the scenery.

But my sharp, icy gaze behind that deceiving strip of fabric saw everything and more; more than most people would ever be able to even begin to comprehend. I knew that no human could ever truly know love, that no man would ever cherish and be faithful to his wife. My disenchanted, cruel heart was certain that what drove humans was their lust for power, for money, for fame, and nothing more. I passed the Priests of Ervael, cloaked in their unassuming black robes, swathed from head to toe in black, a slash of white cutting from shoulder to hip in form of a tightly wrapped sash. Their faces were hidden to the pessimistic, forlorn world outside of their comfortably normal Church. Typical of priests.

I was known to them, though, as I climbed the countless steps to Ervael's Tower each day at dawn. And if the priests ever questioned why I did so, why I indulged in this obsessive enjoyment of the demoralized city spread beneath the God's outstretched hand, they never asked me. Though if they ever did, I'm sure my answer would have given them pause. It was hard for normal people to comprehend, but the sight of so many miseries, so much failure and destitution made me unspeakably happy. I knew, even at twenty-something winters, that no one would ever be truly satisfied. And that made my heart lift.

I strode beneath the arch of the church's double doors into the cloying, sickly-sweet smell of Corsairh. Numerous emaciated, unwashed bodies littered the steps leading up to the doors, whimpering in their weakness. I passed them by without a glance -- they were simply just another part of the scenery in this wretched city.  "But none of you realize it, do you?" I felt a smile grace my lips as I paused and crouched down beside a small boy, running my slender fingers through the child's matted, unwashed hair. "You have the power to make a living here, to lie, to cheat, to steal. You can be whatever, whoever you want to be, and yet you choose to lay here on these steps, pleading for bent coppers from those who have none to spare." My head tilted to the side, hooking a finger under the hem of silk, pulling the blindfold down to reveal a single eye. The boy flinched away from his azure gaze, as if burned. "Why?"

"I-I don't understand, Sirrah," The boy whined in the back of his throat and bony, dirty fingers clutched the front of Altais' shirt. "Please, tell me what you want me to say an' I will, Milord, as long as I c'n get some coin!" His words became frantic, and his breaths wheezed between dry, cracked lips.

Altais' mouth became a thin, white line as his hand covered the boy's own, giving it a gentle squeeze. A single, harsh word fell from Altais' lips, and strange arcane runes appeared and swirled in his iris, spiraling out from the dark depths of his pupil. "I want the truth." As soon as he spoke, the boy's clawing and ragged breaths ceased, his eyes glazing over as his face slackened entirely.

"I grew up in Corsairh, an' I hated it here, Master. My father left when I was six, an' my mother was addicted to Riftscale for as long as I c'n remember. So when I turned ten, the Priests of Ervael took me an' told me I had a choice: to live forever within these walls, or find the Frenzy within." The boy's voice was deadpan, his gaze fixated on the dancing, swirling Geas within Altais' eye. A small frown marred Altais' features at the boy's words, and with a sigh, he pulled his blindfold back up to cover his eye. The boy jolted, as if physically struck, and blinked rapidly as he came out of his daze. "Sorry, Sirrah? Did ye need somethin'?"

"Nothing." Altais stood and continued on his way, shoving his hands into his pockets. Frenzy, hmm? How many lives has it ruined, how many families has it torn apart in this wretched city? Far too many to count, that was for sure. Frenzy, more than anything, was what set Corsairh apart the most from other cities. It was something along the lines of a game, though the stakes were far too high. If someone wanted to escape the high, filth-stained walls of Corsairh, they had to earn their freedom; if you were born here, there was no walking through the great gates if you decided you’d be better off somewhere else. The way to set foot outside of the city was to prove yourself. Not only to your peers, but to the one person that mattered: the person who held the title of Ervael’s Hand.  The Hand alone could grant you permission to leave the stinking bowels of Corsairh and escape into the fresh, clean air of the outside world. But the only way to get his permission was if you challenged him and he deemed you worthy to represent Corsairh to the outside world.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Should I explain the powers of Altais' Geas, or is it fairly clear that it makes people listen to his commands? It can't force them to do his bidding, per se, but it's more of a compulsion he puts on them.

Let me know if I should give a description.



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:49 pm



NARROW roads spread out haphazardly in every direction, the city’s warren-like avenues beckoning to Altais. Picking a direction at random, having no particular destination in mind, Altais set out at an unhurried walk. Loud footsteps resounded off the narrow walls to each side as a young boy of perhaps eleven winters ran by, clutching a bronze pendant in a bloody hand. As he passed by Altais, he caught the gleam of victory in the child’s haunted eyes, and he smiled.

On your tenth birthday at sunset, the priests of Ervael took you from whatever hovel you called your home to the Belltower. You were ushered up those countless steps to stand beside the giant, cowled carving of Ervael, and you were made to look out over the bleak despair of the city. You were forced to stand still, unspeaking, unmoving for an hour, just watching and listening. Listening to the sounds of human lives being taken for nothing more than a rain-soaked, moldy piece of bread. Listening to the last gasping breaths of mothers, with children wailing, clutching their mother’s bloody skirts as she lay dying in the street.

When the day’s light was a fading memory and the cold began to seep in, you were taken back down the stairs into a small little room, with nothing more than two wooden stools in it. In that room, you were given a choice, as was befitting to Ervael’s worshipers. A hooded man would enter and sit down across from you, and he would explain to you how you had been cursed to be born in Corsairh. How there was no way out into the bright lands beyond, how there was no climbing the massive, stained walls and avoiding their faceless sentries. How that small tattoo on your wrist marked you as a native to the crime-riddled city, and how you were marked with it on the day of your birth. But that small tattoo gave you a privilege to play in a game most people would never even know of: a game aptly titled ‘Frenzy’.

The faceless man would give truth to all the rumors you had heard as a child; how playing Frenzy was the only way to leave Corsairh if you had had the misfortune to be born there. The rules of the game were simple. If you made the choice to play, you were given a bracelet, with five bronze disks hanging from it. You must always wear the bracelet with at least one tag on it to show that you were a challenger in Frenzy, and must always carry all of the tags you had on you.  Each bronze disk had a certain number of circles stamped into it: the first tag had one circle, the second one two and so on and so forth. Those circles represented something called “Ranks,” and the higher the rank, the more difficult the tag would be to obtain.

And of course, the only way to obtain a tag was to either defeat or kill the one who carried it. Now, to be able to leave the strangling embrace of Corsairh, one must challenge Ervael’s Hand, and the only way to do that was to present twenty Rank Five tags to the priests of Ervael. This, of course, meant that you had to defeat or kill twenty people, at the very least. And at the ripe age of ten, everyone who had more than one Rank Five tag was far more skilled than you, and you were very likely to die in your first attempt to gain an R5. You had to use your intelligence and your physical skills to kill your opponent and take their tags.

However, there were strict rules in Frenzy that you had to follow if you wanted to get out. The first rule is when challenging an opponent to take one or more of their tags, you must have at least one eyewitness present. This was never a problem, considering there were always spectators to watch Frenzies fight. Rule two was that while you did not have to kill your opponent, they must be rendered unconscious in the fight in order for you to take their tags.

Rule three stated that you may not take more than two tags per challenger – the two tags could be any rank, but if you took more than you were supposed to, the eyewitnesses would take note, and you would be killed by the enforcers of Frenzy, who called themselves Hounds. Hounds patrolled the cramped streets of Corsairh at every hour of the day and night, and they were allowed to use whatever means necessary to ensure that Frenzies followed the rules of the game. Adhere by the rules, and you were able to gain tags in any way you chose. One of the more interesting things about Frenzy was that there were dealers in the church where you could trade in your lower-rank tags to get food, water, and medical supplies. Of course, cleaner water, better food, and medical supplies required higher tags, but it was a genius system that kept all tag ranks in circulation from players to the church and back again.

Altais had been a player in Frenzy for seven years now, and already he had twelve Rank Five’s. When the priests first told him what Frenzy was and how it worked, Altais had found a purpose, had found a justification for the violent acts he knew he would commit in the future. Who could blame him, if every person he killed was to free himself? Although to be honest, Altais wasn't seeking freedom from Corsairh. No, unlike all those other poor fools who thought life outside the city would be great, Altais was merely in it for the challenge. He held no thoughts for what he would do if he was allowed to leave Corsairh; this stinking city was all he had ever known, and while he knew that there were no laws here, there were certainly laws everywhere else. And that would certainly put a damper on his spirits. The only reason Altais wanted to challenge Ervael’s Hand was because he wanted to be the one everyone worshiped and feared.



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Understand the game of Frenzy and how it works? Do I need to add / change the rules? Is the Ranking / Tag system fairly easy to comprehend?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:49 pm



ALTAIS  watched the receding figure of the boy who had run by with interest. What rank did the child just kill for? When Altais himself had been a year into the game, he was going after R4’s, but Rank Fours were hard to obtain through force at such a young age. Altais raised the hood of his cloak to cover his features before setting off after the child at a slow walk. With each step he took, the silver R5 hanging from his neck clinked softly against its chain, and Altais found comfort in the sound.

“Why’re you followin’ me?” The child had stopped in the middle of the cramped alley and had turned to face Altais. The boy had what seemed to be light-colored hair under all the grime, and his clothes were little better than rags. His blood-covered hand was clenched protectively around his prize; everyone in Corsairh knew that you needed to guard just-won tags jealously, as there were always people willing to swipe them off of you. Altais watched the boy from behind his blindfold, asking himself the same question. Why was he following the child? He didn’t want to take his tags – the kid had obviously fought hard for them, and Altais wasn’t one to steal from those younger than he was.

"Curiosity, mostly. What rank are those?" Altais said. "Who did you kill?"

The child grinned widely, eyes shining. "I killed someone at least five years older than me! He was real big, but he was slow! He only had R3's though." The boy seemed a bit disappointed. "M'name's Valek, Val fer short. What's yours, mister?" Now that he knew Altais wasn't going to take his tags, the kid seemed friendly enough.

"Altais," He replied. "You have to start somewhere, and you can trade in R3's for food or something. Before you know it, kid, you'll be killing off R5's, and then it's only a matter of time before you can leave." Altais ran a hand through his hair, at a loss for what to say. He'd never been a very sociable person. In fact, he had very little experience in communication that didn't involve threats or violence. After an awkward silence, the older boy shrugged. "Well, good luck to you, Val. I hope you make it out of here one day, if that's what you want to do." He turned on his heel and began walking back the way he had come. He hadn’t eaten in a while, and figured he could trade in a few R3’s for something good, not to mention there was a certain priest who would trade him some liquor for an R5. He was halfway down the alley before he noticed that the child was following him. A frown marred his features as he stopped and turned to face Val.

He was just in time to twist at the waist, avoiding the knife in the child’s hand that would have slid between his ribs. Altais grabbed the boy’s wrist, digging his thumb into the radial nerve, forcing the child’s hand open. The blade fell to the urine-soaked cobblestones, clanging loudly as it skittered across the ground. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, kid?”

"Gimmie your tags, Altais. I need 'em to get out of here." Val struggled and tried to pull away, but Altais closed his fingers around the boy's other wrist, twisting him around. He held Val against the front of his own body, immobilizing him. The kid squirmed against him, kicking back with his foot in an attempt to get free. With a sigh, Altais bent his knee, trapping Val's shin in the crook of his leg to throw him off balance.

"You can't win against me, kid. Be thankful you're young and I actually have some morals, otherwise you would've been dead a minute ago. Why go after me? There're plenty of others you could easily swipe tags from."

"You're that Altais, right? Altais Malbain, leader of the Black Serpents, the Assassin's Guild? You got your first R5 when you were twelve. You're a legend to us, and if I killed you and took your tags, no one would ever mess with me again!" The kid attempted to twist his wrist from Altais' fingers, and Altais let him go. A grubby finger pointed at Altais' chest, where a single silver tag rested over his sternum on a thin chain. "You're the only person besides the Hand who has a silver R5, and you're the only guy that wears his tags on a necklace. That and your blindfold is how everyone knows who you are. They're like a big target painted on your back, you know."

Altais hooked two fingers under the hem of his blindfold, giving it a gentle tug. The soft fabric pooled around the base of his neck, and he fixed his icy gaze on the child. "And you didn’t think of how many people have tried to do the same thing you intended to? You never wondered why I wore a custom-made silver R5, as opposed to just a common bronze one?" Altais shook his head, a stray lock of black hair falling into his face. "I want people to come after me, kid. It’s way less work for me if they seek me out, as opposed to the other way around. It’s a general rule that R5’s almost always target other R5’s. Why should I expend the time, energy and effort in hunting someone down if I know that they’ll come after me sooner or later?" Altais scoffed, arching a delicately trimmed eyebrow. "With the knowledge that I’ll be targeted, I’ll happily lie in wait with the advantage. It’s simple common sense that you seem to be lacking."

Val’s lower lip quivered as he met Altais’ fierce gaze, his eyes shining with frustrated tears. It was obvious, even to Altais, that the boy’s short-lived hopes had hinged on killing the man. Well, there wasn’t any way that was going to happen. Literally hundreds had tried to off Altais for the same reason Val had, and all of them had been killed without a word escaping Altais’ lips.

The man supposed he hadn’t killed Val for no other reason than that the kid was so young. Granted, if you lived past ten in Corsairh, you were seen as an adult, considering staying alive was so damned hard. But he was still a child, and even though he was participating in Frenzy, he still retained some of the innocence of youth that most boys lost with their first kill.

"You don’t even get it, do you? You walk around, all high and mighty, because no one’s been able to lay a finger on you since you’ve been in Frenzy! And because you’re the leader of the Serpents, you think you’re unbreakable. Well, you’re wrong!" Val’s face lit up in a wide smile, and that was all the warning Altais had. Altais felt a disturbance in the air behind him and dropped down into a crouch. He heard the whuff whuff of a throwing knife pass over his head, and he turned to face his attacker. It was yet another young boy, presumably one of Val’s friends. The child had another small blade in his hand, elbow cocked back to send it flying towards Altais.

Altais pushed off of the ground, springing forward towards the new boy. He collided with the child, wrapping his leanly-muscled arm around the boy's neck and knocked the throwing dagger from his hand. The boy let out a grunt as he was pushed backwards, sprawling on the hard cobblestones beneath them. Altais reached down to his belt with his free hand, sliding one of his stilettos from its sheath. He pressed the tip of the blade against the kid's neck, and the boy stopped struggling immediately.

"Move and your friend dies, Val. I might not want to kill children, but that doesn't mean I won't." Altais knew Val had been approaching slowly behind him, trying to put a knife between his shoulder blades. Altais stood from his crouch and turned to face Val, dragging his captive around with him. "Care to know what happens when you double-cross a Black Serpent?"

Val glared at Altais from ten paces away, his little hand shaking in a white-knuckled grip on his knife. Several emotions flashed across the young boy's face at Altais' question until the boy realized he already knew the answer. His shoulders sagged in defeat, and Altais let out a breath. Good. He wouldn't need to use his Geas on the child.

"Don't hurt Wren, alright? He didn't know who you were. I was the one who set you up, okay?"

Altais forced down laughter. Don't hurt the boy? Who was this child to make such a request of him, after what he did? In a city that positively thrived on violence and betrayal, no one had the right to live. Regardless of who it was that had set him up, though, Altais was not one to take a threat to his life -- as incompetent as it was -- so easily. The man smiled, shifting his weight so the stiletto drew a small bead of blood from Wren's neck. "An exchange. His life in return for yours," Altais said, his blue eyes cold. "You will serve me, Val."




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
❤❤



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:50 pm



IT had been nearly a year since Val had agreed to Altais' terms, and the kid had settled into his new life reasonably well. Even though he was only eleven, Val did everything Altais' asked of him to the best of ability, and though Val didn't realize it, Altais had been training him. Finally, when Val had turned twelve, Altais had taken him to the Black Serpent's headquarters, and had begun the child's official weapons training. Val had taken to daggers like a fish to water, and he learned quickly, rising through the ranks of the Serpents even at such a young age. Altais clapped his hands, getting the attention of Val and the Serpent's weapons-master, Rory.

"That's enough for today, gentlemen. I think Rory here is at his limit, and I need Val for some work today." Rory flashed his leader a grin and sheathed his sword, wiping sweat from his brow. Val clapped his hand to his heart in salute to the older man and put his blades away, scampering over to Altais and grinning up at him. He ruffled the child's hair affectionately and beckoned Val to follow him as he led the way out the door and down the hall towards the main area of the Serpent's headquarters. "What do you say you and I go put all this training to use, hmm? There's an R5 I've had my eye on for some time, and he's been boasting to anyone who'll listen that he can beat me without breaking a sweat."

"You mean I get to come watch, Master Alta?" Val's hazel eyes were wide and when Altais nodded, the child whooped and threw his arms into the air. Altais grinned and pushed open to door to his suite of rooms, grabbing his cloak from a hook on the wall and throwing it around his shoulders before grabbing Val's and passing it to him.

"But this won't be all fun and games, Val. I'm actually going to use you as a distraction." Altais shut and locked his door, turning on his heel and leading Val out into the cold, grey streets of the city. "You are going to be the one that challenges Helm, actually. And we'll have to be careful, since in the whole history of Frenzy, no one has ever teamed up before. It's always been every man for himself, so I want to be sure the Hounds are alright with this, first."

"Good idea, Master. Last thing we want is the Hounds on our asses, huh?" Val yelped and winced as Altais cuffed him on the ear, frowning down at the kid for the use of obscenity. "I mean on our tails. But how're you gunna find out if they're alright with it?"

"Why, by asking, of course." Altais grinned and waved at a man on the corner of the street, who slipped gracefully through the crowd and nodded at Altais, the fierce, snarling mask that marked him a Hound covering his features. "Well-met, Hound. I've a proposition to put to you, but you might need to check with the Hand himself."

"Go on, Altais, just give it to me straight. I might have the authority."

"Fine. I want to team up with Val here officially and fight an R5 by the name of Helm together. Val himself will be the one to challenge him, but I will be making the kill. Is this acceptable under the rules of Frenzy?"

The Hound was silent for a few moments, the mask glaring ferociously at man and boy. After a moment, the Hound nodded curtly. "Yes, I don't see why it would be against the rules. However, nothing like this has ever been done before, so if one of Helm's friends joins the fight to oppose your boy here, that will be permissible as well. So think long and hard before you commit yourselves." Without another word, the Hound turned smartly on his heel and disappeared into the crowd.

Altais arched an eyebrow at the man's words and squeezed Val's shoulder. "Well, what do you think? Think you can handle a Three or Four on your own? I know for a fact that the only R5 Helm kept company with was Ermin, and I killed him off and swiped his tags two months ago. So the most you'll have to worry about is an R4. Think carefully and answer honestly. It'll be a distraction for me if I have to jump in and save you, kid."

Val nodded a few seconds later. "Yeah, I think I can handle it, Master. As long as there's only one of them, I can do it, no problem." The kid grinned up at Altais, who smiled and shook his head.

"Shall we go, then?"



[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
❤❤



Last edited by King Azreth on Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:30 am; edited 3 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:50 pm



VALEK stood out in front of the Tipsy Crow, Helm's favorite tavern. Altais was moving among the crowd, pushing them back to clear a space in the street to give his protege and Helm room to fight. He weaved in and out of the people, making sure to keep himself hidden from view in the event Helm emerged; he didn't want to show himself too soon, after all.

"Come on out, you lintlicking son of a goat! Come and face me like a man, unless you'd prefer to frack me instead of fight me! Is that it, Helm? Do you prefer little boys to women?" Altais smothered a laugh as he saw Val prancing out in the street. God, the kid was brave. Or entirely stupid. "Helmy! Come on out, you fool! Come fight me!"

After a minute, the man emerged with a scowl on his ugly features. He was a big man, at least six-foot-two, and was packed with muscle. When he saw Val, he let out a loud guffaw, and his friends behind him snickered into their hands. Helm rested his wrist on the long sword set on his hip, grinning boldly down at Val as he drew the bastard sword.

"A scrawny thing like you thinks he can beat the great Helm? Fine by me if you want to throw your life awa-"

Helm was cut off as Val rushed him, twin daggers held in a reverse-grip, just like Altais had taught him. Val dropped into a low crouch and sprang upwards, feinting with his right blade. Helm brought up his sword to block, but was thrown backwards as Val slammed his forehead into the man's nose. Helm sputtered and staggered back a few steps with a roar of pain, blood sluicing between the fingers of the hand covering his nose. Val laughed and turned around, bending over and wiggling his ass at the large man. The crowd of onlookers laughed loudly, and Helm growled furiously at the small boy.

"Oh, you're in f'r ib now, kib!" Helm snarled and barreled forward, raising his heavy blade above his head with a snarl. Val squealed and crossed his wrists, catching the sharp edge of Helm's sword in the intersection of his daggers, nearly falling forward at the shock of the collision. The boy let out a curse and dropped his arms, jumping backwards to put distance between himself and the large man. Val pulled his elbow back and snapped his arm forward, sending one of his blades flying right at Helm's face. The man brought his sword up in front of him and batted the blade aside with a fierce grin. [color=white["Won' be thab easy, kib."[/color]

"No. No, it won't." Val said, standing five yards away from the man and crossed his arms over his chest, smirking boldly up at Helm. Without warning, Altais flew from the knot of people behind Helm, his right arm extended as he slammed the thin blade of his katar into the right side of the large man's back, sending him tumbling forward. Helm rolled on the cobblestones, coming to a stop a foot from Val. The young boy planted the toe of his boot between the man's ribs, eliciting a grunt of pain. "Oh, whoops. Did I forget to mention that I brought company?" Val backpedaled as Helm rose to his feet panting, his small, beady eyes full of rage. The boy glanced at Altais and nodded curtly, backing up and blending into the crowd as Helm focused his attention on the leader of the Serpents.

"Web, web. Finally get the ballb to cumb after me, Altaib? And ubing duch a sball kid as a dibdraction?" Helm laughed through his shattered nose, but Altais could tell that he had done some damage to the man; perhaps even punctured a lung, judging by the rasping breaths Helm was drawing. But the big man simply rolled his shoulders and brought his bastard sword up in front of him, dropping into a fighter's crouch. "Cumb geb me, den."

Altais felt a slow grin stretch his lips as he settled his weight onto the balls of his feet, flexing his fingers before curling them around the grips of his twin katars. He had chosen the weapon based on watching Helm's tactics over the last two months; Helm was very powerful, though he was slow because of his sword. That was the only reason he had allowed Val to open for him -- he knew that Val was quick enough to dance around Helm if needed, so he hadn't worried about the kid getting hurt. Because of the slow movement of the bastard sword, Altais knew that speed would get him the man's tags, not power. And his stilettos didn't have much reach on them, so he had chosen the katar. They would not hamper his quick, precise movements, and the blades were a full foot compared to the seven inches of his stilettos. Plus, the extended grip of the katars gave him another four inches, which suited Altais just fine.

"Step up, step up! Place your bets! Altais, Leader of the Black Serpents, versus the Great Helm! Power versus speed, brains versus brawn! Who will win this terrifying display of prowess? Place your bets! Odds are three to one, Altais!" Val took money and passed out tickets he had pre-made while he and Altais got lunch before confronting Helm. Altais snorted and shook his head, rolling his eyes behind his blindfold. The damned kid would find any way to get money.

"Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint them, would I?"




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Do I need to add more detail to the fighting scene, here? Should I just have had Altais stab Helm in the back, and make a quick end of it? Or at least wound Helm to the point where the fight would be easier? I feel that would've been the prime scenario, since it would've caused an uproar among the onlookers, and would've made one of Helm's friends jump in.

After Val finishes taking bets, I think he's going to come back into the fight and they'll double-team Helm until one of his buddies jumps in.

Any suggestions on this scene?



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:46 pm



ALTAIS pushed off of the ground with his right foot, sprinting towards Helm, his katars held out before him. Helm brought his sword up horizontally in front of him, parallel with the ground as he waited for Altais' attack. The leader of the Black Serpents planted his left foot on the ground and sprang sideways, darting with immeasurable speed around Helm's first strike. Altais swung around Helm's left side and whipped his right arm out, the blade of his katar leaving a long line of red up the man's arm, cutting deep into muscle and tendon. A scream fell from the big man's lips as blood fell from the wound, and the fingers of his hand refused to close around the hilt of his sword.

Altais skidded to a stop, crouching down low to the ground as he grinned up at the man. "Yield now, Helm, and I'll let you leave with your life. Just hand over your tags." The man knew he could beat Helm with a hand tied behind his back, and while he normally didn't show mercy to his opponents, he felt he needed to set a good example for Val. But apparently, Helm wasn't going to lose face in front of an audience.

The big man roared and rushed forward, wielding his bastard sword one-handed above his head. Altais grimaced and made to lunge sideways, but strong fingers closed around his upper arms, holding him down. He gasped and tried to slam his occipital bone into his captor's nose, but Helm's friend jerked his head to the side, easily avoiding the move. "Get 'im, Helm!"

With a scream reminiscent of a kicked cat, Val came charging out of the crowd and threw himself into Helm, slamming his shoulder into the wound in the man's back. Helm let out a cry as he lost his balance, and Altais took advantage of the confusion by somersaulting forward, slipping easily out of his captor's grasp. He rolled to his feet and clapped Val on the back as the two crossed paths before springing without hesitation onto Helm's fallen form. Out of the corner of his eye, Altais saw his protege throw himself onto Helm's friend, his daggers catching the light of the sun as Val plunged them deep into the man's stomach. Good boy. Altais planted his knee on Helm's sternum and drove the thin blade of his katar upwards between the man's ribs, and felt a wave of heat roll over him as he felt the metal part tendon and muscle, its tip driving deep into Helm's heart. The big man sputtered and let out a low gasp, blood spilling from between his lips. Altais smiled down at the man as he pulled his katar from Helm's torso, wiping the blade on the man's shirt. Helm gave a final, shuddering breath, and the light left his eyes as he fell limp. Altais blew out a breath and wiped sweat from his brow with the back of his hand before pulling the four R5's from the man's wrist.

"Well done, Val." Altais stood up and turned smartly on his heel, pressing the lever on his palm that returned the blades of his katar to their built-in sheaths on his forearms. He strode over to his protege as the boy slipped his foe's bracelet off, gripping the tags in a bloody palm as Val turned and grinned up at Altais. The man dropped a hand to the boy's head, ruffling his hair. "Nice work, kid." Altais glanced around, blinking, as he realized that the crowd was far too quiet. Shit. The mass of people parted as three Hounds emerged and strode over to Altais and Val, the snarling, angry masks hiding the men's features.

"Master..?" Altais heard a tremor of fear in Val's voice, and he squeezed the boy's shoulder reassuringly.

"Hush, kid. Let me do the talking."

"Altais Malbain. Valek Revaille. Surrender your weapons and come with us." The Hound held out his hands, and Altais grimaced as Val unstrapped the katar from his mentor's arms, handing them over to the man before relinquishing his daggers. "Follow." The other two Hounds fell in on either side of Altais and Valek as they were marched out of the street, towards the giant form of Ervael atop his tower.




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
❤❤



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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Mon Oct 07, 2013 2:40 pm



THE   two waited in silence in a small, windowless room inside of Ervael's tower, Val pacing restlessly, Altais leaning back against a wall, arms crossed over his chest. At the sound of footsteps outside of the door, Val trotted over to Altais and pressed himself tightly against the man's side. The door opened and a man swept into the room, the heels of his boots clicking purposefully on the marble floor. Long black hair fell in a straight wave over his shoulders and down his back, coming to a stop just above his navel. He was clothed in all black, save a white ascot at his neck. The hood of his cloak hid his features from mentor and protege, but even without seeing his face, Altais knew the man standing before them.

"Val," he said, "Meet Lexus, Hand of Ervael and Master of Frenzy." Altais inclined his head to the man, and Val dipped into a low bow beside him. "To what do we owe this honor?"

The man reached up with gloved hands and lowered his hood, revealing sharp, angular features. His eyes were hard, his full lips curved into a cruel smile. "It seems you two caused quite a stir earlier today, hmm?" His voice was high, lilting, almost musical, but Altais heard a note of insanity twining through the man's words. "In all the centuries that Frenzy has been around, two players have never teamed up against an opponent." Lexus ran a hand through his hair, his blue eyes hard. "Quite unheard of."

Val opened his mouth to speak, but Altais slipped a hand over the boy's lips, pulling Valek behind him and cutting him off. "Indeed, but I spoke to one of your Hounds earlier this morning, and he assured me it didn't go against the rules of Frenzy." He could feel Val shaking against his back, and Altais grimaced, praying that the boy would keep his mouth shut and let him do the talking. "We didn't mean to cause a stir, as you say."

"Oh, I'm sure that wasn't your intention, no. But the fact remains that you made some waves today, and that could prove...problematic." Lexus strode over to the single stool in the room, sitting down as if it were a throne, crossing his long legs before him. "So, what am I to do about this, pray tell?"

Altais squeezed Valek's shoulder and moved to face Lexus, his fingers itching for a weapon. "What, exactly, is the issue here, Lexus?" He heard Val inhale sharply at his insubordinate tone, but he went on. "I fail to see the problem, considering one of Helm's friends jumped in without invitation." The man hooked a finger under the hem of his silk blindfold and pulled down, the fabric pooling around his neck so he could meet Lexus' gaze. "Judging by that, I really don't see how us teaming up is relevant. Seems like a moot point to me." In a blur of motion, Lexus sprang from the stool and slammed his forearm into Altais' neck, pinning the shorter man against the wall, his face mere inches from Altais' own. Altais grimaced and balled his hands into fists, but kept himself from moving; the blade pressed against his neck was a wordless warning that he was quite keen on heeding.

"The issue here, Altais, is the fact that you and your little friend here blatantly disobeyed the rules of Frenzy." The Hand's tone was venomous, and the arm on Altais' neck cut off his airway, making each breath a struggle. "The issue is that even though there are no rules expressly forbidding cooperation between those participating in Frenzy, it should have been cleared with me before the fight." Lexus applied pressure on the blade held to Altais' throat, a point of fire blossoming on the man's skin, the small bead of blood a stark contrast to Altais' porcelain skin. "And the Hound who approved your little idea fell ill to a knife in the back earlier. Tragic, really. I'm thinking it's a quite contagious disease, and you and Valek here doubtless caught it from him."

"Master Lexus, please! Don't hurt Altais any more; it was my idea. But I thought the Hound wouldn't listen if it came from someone as low-ranked as me, so I asked Altais to ask him in my stead. So kill me if you have to, but not him!" Valek's voice was shaking with fear as he spoke, but the boy couldn't stand it if Altais was killed. The man had taken him under his wing, providing food, a warm bed, training, and a life worth living without expecting anything from Val in return. If giving up his life was how he could pay Altais back, then so be it.

"Oh?" A flicker of amusement crossed the Hand's face as he pivoted slightly, turning his attention towards Valek while still keeping Altais pinned to the wall. "What a loyal little pet you've found yourself, Altais." Lexus drew the point of the knife lightly across the assassin's throat, a smile playing on the Hand's full mouth. "Who knew that the cold-blooded serpent would open his heart to someone? Or do you simply fancy little boys who haven't even gotten their hair yet?"

Altais clenched his teeth so hard his jaw hurt at the insult, but he didn't rise to the bait; he knew better than that. Val, however, didn't.




[ [ A U T H O R _ N O T E S: ] ]
Should I have Lexus try to kill Altais and / or Valek? Or should I have Lexus let them off with a warning?


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PostSubject: Re: Frenzy w/ Formatting - Short Story   Sat Jan 11, 2014 1:01 am



THE   boy's fingernails dug deep into his hands, leaving crescent-shaped indentations in the skin of his palms. Valek stood a step forward, fury blazing in his eyes as he reached out and wrapped small, slender fingers around Lexus' wrist, having to stand on the balls of his feet to do so, as the Hand was easily a foot and a half taller than he was. The moment his fingers touched the Hand's skin, Lexus became a blur of motion. He used his free hand to grip Valek on the shoulder, sweeping his leg under the boy's feet while pulling forward and down simultaneously, knocking Val off of his feet.

Valek grunted as he hit the stone floor hard, knocking his chin and making him see stars for several moments. The boy groaned and heaved himself up onto his hands and knees, feeling light-headed and dizzy. When his vision finally cleared, he saw that Lexus had returned his attention to Altais, his head bent as he whispered something into the assassin's ear. Valek saw Altais' blue eyes widen, saw all the color drain from his face. The boy felt his pulse pounding in his ears as rage washed through him, and Val shot to his feet, pushing off of the ground to lunge at Lexus in another attempt to get him off of Altais. But Lexus simply stepped to the side and used his free hand to give the boy a gentle shove between the shoulder blades, using Val's momentum against him to send the child face-first into the wall not three inches away from Altais. The boy let out a strangled scream as he heard the sharp crack of his nose shattering against the wall and he reeled, staggering backwards and falling gracelessly onto his rump. Tears streamed from his eyes as he covered his nose with his hand, blood sluicing between his small fingers.

"Why?" He yelled at Lexus, his cheeks flushed red from mingled anger and pain, his left hand curled into a fist on the ground. "Why do you have to punish us for something that isn't even against the thrice-damned rules?!" Valek sucked in a lungful of air, his voice shaking as he continued. "We've played your stupid game for years, and we've followed every single rule! Altais is one of your best players -- if not the best! -- and you have go and focus on the one thing we did? We showed innovation, dammit! The Hound approved it, the crowd obviously loved it, and we followed all of the guidelines! So why can't you just pat us on the back like a normal person and let us go?!"

With each word the boy spoke, Altais' face grew paler and paler. Lexus had told him that if they continued resisting, he would kill Valek slowly, torturing him right in front of the assassin's eyes. Altais opened his mouth to tell the boy to be quiet, but Lexus' hand slipped over his mouth, sealing his lips. The assassin's eyes fluttered closed in despair as he tilted his head back, sending a wordless plea up to the Gods that they'd spare Val. Lexus watched on in amusement as Valek screamed at him, allowing the child's insults to wash off of him.

When Val's words finally fell silent, he stood panting, glaring at the Hand of Ervael.

Lexus Dialogue: "text"
Altais Dialogue: "text"




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