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stTNESI: Before They Were Hanged

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by Thlayli, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. Grandkhan

    Grandkhan Telvanni Master Wizard

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    Is it not too late to join this? The other major story-NES I was in is inactive, so I figure I might join this so I can write cool stories regularly.

    Is it not too late?

    EDIT: I can always submit a background NPC or something if it is. :p
     
  2. filli_noctus

    filli_noctus Hmmn

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    I'm working on an expanded mutiny scene. Expect it at some point today.
     
  3. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    OOC: Since Strategos is in a bit of a time crunch, I'll provide his information slightly early.

    -Precursor to the Update 0-

    To: Matar al-Kurshidi

    In the name of Shavat, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful. The fourth Nizam of the Qasrábi, Ghazir Ikhvan al-Haanji, would summon you to his gardens to speak with his interlocutor, the Prime Vizier Aram. For it has come to his attention that the one known as Kamar Blackheart has been seen near our shores, harassing those of our merchant xebecs who still deign to trade in the seas of xacao. His Stewardship’s fleets are engaged already protecting those convoys which he might protect, and deterring those forces of the Vile Opposer, servants of the Dog of Jacino, the so-called Dominus of Astajar. To quote the writings of the Prophet, when one would hunt a wolf one does not send out a pack of ill-tempered dogs, but rather a trained hunter. The Nizam himself is familiar with the deeds of your famous father-in-law, and the good fortune which has followed the exploits of your lineage. He would have his interlocutors determine whether you are fit for this noble task, and subsequently to be named among his most leal servants. Just rewards and pious acclamations are sure to follow its successful completion.

    Written by his Third Vizier, the unworthy Nakrad.
     
  4. filli_noctus

    filli_noctus Hmmn

    Joined:
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    So ye be lookin' fer a tale wi' many a buckle bein' swashed, eh? Well I'll spin ye a yarn o' treachery and derrin' do on the high seas. [/OBLIGATORYPIRATE]

    Spoiler Expanded mutiny :
    The Mehmet was four days out of port when Kamar struck. During the dark hours of first watch he crept into Captain Hirouk's private quarters, wickedly sharpened dirk in hand. Quietly he closed the door and waited for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. It took a minute before he was able to make out the captain's form in the dim light seeping in from the lanterns mounted outside the rear port.
    Slowly and quietly he crept towards Hirouk's bunk, freezing when the captain turned in his sleep and then continuing till he was at the side of the bunk. He grabbed the blanket to block the inevitable arterial spray and then in one swift movement covered Hirouk's mouth with the blanket, reached under the blanket with the dirk and slit the man's throat - quickly pulling his arm away.
    Captain Hirouk bucked a couple of times and the blanket turned dark, a faint squeal made it's way out of his mouth, but nothing that would be heard over the washing of the sea and the creaking of the ship.
    Kamar wiped the bloody dirk on the blanket and crept out to his own bunk unobserved.

    At dawn Kamar rose and smiled to himself at his impending freedom. He emerged from his quarters and looked around until he saw Jibril, one of the junior officers. Jibril was the lowest ranking officer on the ship but could frustrate Kamar’s plans. The man was built like the Rock of Irtusk and was about as bright, the only reason he had his position was due to being from a minor noble family who wanted him as far away as possible.
    “Jibril,” called Kamar, “I need you to check on the bow gun crew, I’m concerned about their
    maintenance of the chase guns.”
    “Yes, sir,” responded Jibril and lumbered to the prow.

    As soon as Jibril was far enough away that the other officers couldn’t rally round him, Kamar stepped in front of the helm and yelled, “Company, to attention!”
    The men looked up at this unusual development.
    Kamar began speaking,
    “Like you, I did not choose this life.When I was just a child I was stolen from my family and taken to the slave markets of Kamulkar and pressed into the navy. As were you all. I was given a new name and a new faith but I never accepted them in my heart. Now I reject them to the world. You know me as Kamar, but my name is Luc Deselt and Luc Deselt is no slave. For years I have watched you as we have sailed and trained together and I have brought you to this ship because I believe you share my dream of freedom from the Sultan.
    “Last night I took the last step on my journey back to freedom when I took the captain’s life. Now I ask those of you who desire freedom to stand with me and set this ship on a course to the New World. Those of you who wish to remain slaves of the Sultan will be allowed to depart the ship at the next harbour.”

    For a moment there was stunned silence, then Luc heard the unmistakeable sound of a flintlock hammer being cocked behind him.
    “This is mutiny, Kamar.” came the voice of Amoud, third in command of the ship. Luc turned to face him.
    “Indeed it is,” he said, staring coolly down the pistol, “but what do you intend to do about it.”
    “What else?” responded Amoud pulling the trigger. The hammer slammed into the pan, but the powder did not ignite.
    “How unfortunate.” remarked Luc pulling his own pistol from his belt, cocking it in the same motion and shooting the man, creating a hole an fraction of an inch above his left eyebrow.
    Although stunned for a moment the surviving officers all pulled their own pistols on Luc.
    “What makes you think you’ll have any more luck?” asked Luc, “The only guns on this ship that aren’t primed with salt and earth are mine.”
    A flurry of misfires quickly proved his statement accurate.
    The officers wasted no time, drawing their swords they closed in on Luc, intent on slitting him open. Luc quickly used his second pistol to drop Mustafa, the only man who would be able to best him in single combat, whilst drawing his own blade.
    “If you want to be free then join me, lads.” yelled Luc, leaping at his attackers.

    The first man he encountered dropped his shoulder whilst swinging his scimatar. Luc cracked the man’s knuckles with the butt of his pistol, forcing the man to drop his sword. Luc spun past the clumsy charge, delicately disembowelling the officer as he did so and noting, with some satisfaction, that about three-quarters of the crew seemed to have taken his side.
    He feinted to the next man’s right before landing a kick squarely in his crotch and stoving his skull in with a swift pistol blow. By this point the first crewmen had reached the aftcastle and distracted the officers from Luc, although the first two up the stairs were skewered for their trouble.
    The third man, Haman, put up a better fight than his predecessors. He successfully parried Luc’s first three strikes before going on the attack and forcing Luc to retreat to the portside rail. However the man grew overconfident and ever so slightly telegraphed a strike at Luc’s head, allowing Luc the time to block the potentially fatal blow and lock their sword guards together. Haman attempted to wrestle his blade free, Luc just headbutted him in the face, breaking his nose. As Haman loosened his grip and staggered back Luc kicked him hard in the knee, forcing him to the ground. Luc was just about to deal the killing stroke when he looked around to realise the loyal crew were throwing down their weapons.
    He kicked Haman’s sword away and addressed the crewmen who had made it up the stairs.
    “Take the survivors below and restrain them. We’ll put them off the ship at Alma and then we make sail for the New World”.
     
  5. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Please pay attention to your formatting, fili. Paragraphs and line breaks. Otherwise, thank you.
     
  6. filli_noctus

    filli_noctus Hmmn

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    Done.
     
  7. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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  8. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    The knowledge of the circumstances of Captain Elnora's ascension have, like so many a tale, become diluted by time and mystery. And it is just as well because the good Captain does not brook much dillydallying on such philosophical points. She was fairly no-nonsense like that.

    Well, I was part of the crew of The Wolf of Hades for some time. Since before Elnora, anyway, but only just. I'm not much to speak of, but you didn't come here to listen to me, ee? So, about that Elnora.

    As stated, I'm not too clear on the details. I'm given to understand she was the wayward daughter of a one Benjamin Briggs - definitely of Daemion if ever a man were - who had the tragic luck to meet up with a fair Ilennais lady almost one year after he had last seen her, and in the same port. As it happens, this lady was a woman of property, and had done her utmost to conceal the particular iniquities of her pregnancy. Well, despite her pleading, old Briggs wouldn't take care of no child - at least, not while the sea called. But bless him if he didn't have a soft heart, because with no shortage of pestering he ultimately took the child upon himself and settled down, right there in that small coastal town in Ilenne.

    Now, I've never much been a man of superstition, but I'm also not one to question providence. Briggs took care of his daughter - and was no doubt supported in part by whatever wealth the little girl's noblewoman mother could smuggle free - and taught her everything he knew. She was named Elnora for the peculiar way she entered his life, and yet he felt in his heart a longing for the sea.

    Elnora might have felt it too, growing up on the coasts of Ilenne, and would join her father on fishing trips rather normally. She'd tie her hair up in a bun and tuck it under a plain, brown cap. In this way she averted suspicion while in public. In confidence, Briggs took Elnora's education into his own hands. Despite her mother's insistence that she receive a proper schooling - truly a ludicrous suggestion, but what else is there to be said for the cheerful delusions of a noblewoman? - Briggs showed her what she needed to know. But, she did learn to read and write, and books of a kind were occasionally snuck out to her. She would read these by candlelight in the privatest of circumstances. But most of all, Briggs taught Elnora how to play chess. He said that only one man of his old sailing crew could ever beat him at chess, and that man always boasted that he would never give the captain's hat to anyone who couldn't checkmate him. Elnora, however, was fascinated, and learned the game religiously. It wasn't long before she could outsmart her father, which he took without any good humor at all. I'm getting old, he would say; you got lucky. But Elnora knew better than to imagine that her father would go easy on her.

    Well, after about 20 years of all this balderdash, old Briggs took ill of something fierce and kicked the bucket. And now, this is what I say when I mean to impose that there is a question of providence at hand, because not soon after Briggs was buried down deep beneath the Earth he had tried all his life desperately to keep away from, but that The Wolf of Hades, which he had been a freeman on since his own teenage years, sailed into port. Elnora must have known something of her father's past. She donned her cap and boyish clothes and exchanged her father's name for her mother's - Bellarmine - and set out to investigate the old crewmembers of her father's swampy haunt.

    In the seediest dive in the murkiest corner of the town was dwelling the crewmembers of The Wolf of Hades. Elnora observed them from the shadows, minding her own business in all seeming, and watched as the oldest of them with the bushiest beard and the widest frame demanded that a chess board be produced. He announced to the entire pub that he could beat any rube in the room there at chess, and would bet any amount of money that it was so. Elnora knew it that this was the man.

    After the thickset captain of The Wolf of Hades had won a few turns with some of the more erudite goons of the room, Elnora reasoned he must be feeling mighty confident. So, drawing herself up to full height - and minding her gender be appropriately hidden - she, too, challenged him.

    Apparently the captain guffawed heartily, so Elnora made him a deal - if I win this game, she said, I get your ship.

    "O? And what do I get if I win?" said the captain.

    I'll tell you who I am, said Elnora.

    The captain had narrowed his eyes and, with but a few moments' thought, acquiesced.

    Quickly into the game, Elnora saw a chance to seize the captain's queen - so she traded a knight for a pawn to pave the way clear. It was a risky gambit, but such things are the provence of great men. Well, the captain took the bait, and through grinning teeth he said "it idn't a good trade to be givin' a knight fer a pawn." But just like that, his queen was gone, and the tempo was hers - and silence fell over the room like a heavy quilt.

    The tension was legendary; halfway through the game the captain is famously growled "ain't no man I seen in ye'rs played t'at way." And when it was down to the wire, Elnora seized victory, confidently, with both hands, and held it above her head triumphantly. The captain was speechless.

    "Ach! Beginner's luck," he cried.

    "I am no beginner," said Elnora, removing her cap. All at once the bar was alive with consternation, but above the din she asserted: "I am the daughter of the late Benjamin Briggs!"

    The captain paused for several beats, as if imagining how to respond, before finally breaking down in a heap of laughter. "You!" he said, "well, damn me, but a deal's a deal."

    The rest is history. He took her under his wing and the ship was her's. Now, some former crewmembers of The Wolf of Hades didn't take too kindly to this new development - includin' yours truly - but I swallowed my pride out of respect for the man whom the captain said had saved his arse "more times than there are barnacles in the sea." We all had known of Briggs' exploits. What we didn't know, however, was of this little tart what had popped up in the wharves of a pithy little coastal village in Ilenne. Now I could tell you right now that she ain't disappointed, but where'd be the fun in that? Hold on a second while I pack this pipe- there we go. Now, for the rest of the story...
     
  9. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama See ya! It has been a fun decade!

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    NPC Story #1 sent for approval
     
  10. The Strategos

    The Strategos Thanatos

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    OCC: I was saving this story for post-update, you can decide whether me posting it now is intended as encouragement or means I have given up on the update ever coming. P.S. This story was written March 3rd, so any similarities with Crezth's story is completely coincidental though perfectly understandable considering the popularity of gambling on chess in this time period.



    The fourteenth day of the first month in the nine hundredth and third year since the Prophet Dajid, blessed be his name, ascended into Paradise.

    Finished taking on stock. The ship has been provisioned with the total of:

    -four hundred and fifty pounds of cheese
    -five tons of meat
    -four tons of herring
    -one and a quarter ton of butter
    -five and a half tons of dried peas
    -two and a half tons of dried beans
    -half a ton of salt
    -forty-two barrels of beer
    -ten barrels of wine

    Left port at sunrise. By the Grace of Shavat we will see it again soon.

    These things written by Alexander Fortuna at the command of his most gracious lord Matar son of Avan, of the lineage of Khurshid, the son of the Thrice Blessed Dajid. May the Eternal Light of Shavat shine upon him always. May the True God also look after me, Alexander, His servant.



    I gave a firm knock before opening the door to Matar's cabin. I had not seen him since the day of my purchase. I had been busy cataloging and paying for the provisions we were taking on for our next journey. Matar had also been busy, and not "busy" in the slightly euphemistic way most sailors were "busy" when reaching port for the first time in months. Or so I gathered. I had heard from the Watch that Matar came back to the ship two hours after dusk and left again one hour before dawn, not the normal schedule of one giving into one last debauchery before setting sail.
    Matar sat where I saw him last, almost as if he were some piece of furniture, unable to move around the room except by another's power. However, where before the table had been set for supper, now it was empty save for a neatly stacked pile of papers and a quill and ink with which Matar was writing.

    "Do you play Shatranj, sorry what is it called in your tongue, chess?" Still, he wrote, his eyes never leaving the parchment in front of him, almost as if he was talking to himself rather than me.

    "A little, my lord."

    "And are you any good?"

    I paused slightly, wondering how to answer him. "I am good enough to know who I should lose to and who should lose to me." That, after all, was my world, one of status and privilege. Those that were smart realized that the weaker should always lose to the stronger; the base lose to the exalted; the poor to the rich. Chess was not a game of skill, but a game of social control, you lost to those of higher status and won to those of lower status. The one who was not smart enough to realize this point was not one who could live long in that world anyway.

    "There is a chess board on top of the bookshelf, the pieces are in the carved casket beside it." He paused slightly to give me time to walk over to the bookshelf, "You will be white. I will give you Knight's odds. You will call out each move you make, I will verbally respond and you will move the pieces for me." I looked over my shoulder as he talked, still he wrote, only pausing to dip his quill into the ink.

    I retrieved the wooden board, worn smooth with age and use as well as the silver casket in which was kept the pieces. The pieces themselves, I discovered, as I began to set up the game, were superbly carved ivory and ebony. The knights even had small jewels inset for eyes: diamonds for black, rubies for white. Despite our tropical location, they were cool to the touch, a fact that made me uneasy for some unexplainable reason.

    "I find it hard to concentrate without some stake in the matter. If I win I get your wine ration for a week. If you win, I'll drop you off at Lorenza, I'll even let you keep your silver collar to help you pay for your passage home." I was sure he was lying, masters had no reason to keep a promise to a slave, still less reason when the two were alone, with no man to serve as witness to the oath. But still...despite my best efforts of logical thinking, of telling myself I would be a fool to believe his honeyed words, my body betrayed me in its desire to believe. I could feel my palms begin to sweat, my breathing turned almost into an animalistic pant, my heart starting roaring as if two monstrous ships were exchanging cannonades inside of me. And that man, that man damn him, he saw it, he observed every little sign my body gave to its excited state, and he, may he be cast into the Eternal Darkness, gave a faint smile.

    "Agreed, King's pawn up two spaces."

    "King's pawn, same."

    So we started, me calling out the moves, him, never looking up from his writing, responding. Very quickly I realized that he was better than me, much better. Even starting down a knight and not looking at the board, he had nearly equalized our strength twelve moves in. Many of my own pawns were isolated and unable to help each other, his grouped as tightly as an ancient phalanx, guarded the center.

    "As your scribe, shouldn't I be doing that writing for you? Queen's pawn up one space." Though a small hope, I could only count on burying my own moves within a conversation, hoping it would break his concentration.

    "If you want something kept a secret, you have two options, doing it yourself or allowing another to do it and then cutting out their tongue." He looked up, the first time all game his eyes had left the page on which he had been writing. "Though since you can write, I suppose I would have to cut off your tongue and hands. King's bishop takes rook's pawn."

    Any conversation which led to a discussion about me losing my tongue and hands was one I did not wish to engage in, so I switched topics. "Not looking at the board seems to have had no ill-effects on your game, bishop to king's knight five, have you had a lot of practice doing it?"

    "My ancestors were warriors, and before that, nomads. In order to pass the time during a march, they would play each other, calling out moves to the person riding beside them. I suppose, bishop to king's knight six, you could say that for my people playing chess with a board is a strange western variation to our game. Even now, when armies have been replaced by merchants, camps replaced by gardens, and swords replaced by lace-lined fans, there are those you would call masters, men for whom chess is but a child's diversion from their real game. A game where men are pawns, ships their bishops, and princes their queens. Men like Aram."


    He told me the story then, or at least part of it, over the course of the remainder of the game which ended with my concession on the thirty-sixth move. The part of it he didn't tell then I was told by Suli, his personal slave, who was the only one to accompany him that day.

    Those who have seen a Kamulkar garden have seen Paradise. So claimed one of their poets. Though I do not know whether that particular poet was referring to the flowers or one of the women who spent her time there, it is undeniable that race treated their gardens as some men treat their temple. I suppose that when one is surrounded by desert sand, any greenery is akin to a miracle. Thus, it says something of the station of my master that when summoned to appear before the Prime Vizier, he was not summoned to the court, nor a library, nor room, but the emotive center of the palace complex, the garden. That or it was just cooler in the garden, sometimes their minds work in ways that baffle me.

    Matar and Suli were led by a slave into the garden. Suli reported to me the slave had no tongue, I was reminded of Matar's own words to me during our chess game. Prime Vizier Aram, the most powerful man in Qasrábi, perhaps even in the whole Kamulkar Sultanate, was feeding a caged song bird when Matar arrived. When I had asked Suli what the Prime Vizier had looked like, he had only shrugged, "He liked to smile." Such was a slaves impression. I had asked Matar, knowing first hand that he, at least, would note every detail, the smallest scar, the slightest wrinkle. But he too proved evasive, " He's old, his age traceable in the deep gulleys which run through his face. You do not live to be that old by accident."

    "Please forgive me if I do not return your bow," Aram said as Matar gave the proscribed one bow, "when you reach my age, when you go down you do not get back up again very easily. Let us sit in the shade for a moment." Both moved to the silk awning which had been set up to provide relief from the worst of the afternoon sun. As if by magic, a flask of wine and two golden goblets appeared as they lowered themselves onto the waiting pillows. "I heard back in the coffee houses in the capital you used to have to give Rook odds to get anyone to play with you."

    Matar inclined his head slightly, "Tell me, do you know the Shatranj playing habits of every captain that comes through your port, or should I feel especially honored?"

    Matar folded his hands, leaning his head against them. "It is said when the armies of the Prophet Dajid, blessed be his name, first rode out, Dajid appointed captains not by birth, nor riches, nor reputation. But instead, he held a grand Shatranj tournament. The winner became the captain of all the armies, the second place, directly under the winner, and so on and so on, each being appointed according to his skill in Shatranj. When asked why he ordered his armies in such a way, the Prophet, blessed by his name, replied: 'As a still pond reflects the countenance of a man gazing into it, so Shatranj reflects the soul of the one who plays it. For in the playing, a man shows whether he is reckless or cautious; whether he panics in front of danger or remains steadfast, whether he can perceive danger and grasp the one opportunity for victory. In short, Shatranj reveals to what extent a man can be trusted to accomplish what the Nizam asks of him.' It is for this reason, as our historians tell us, that Shatranj is known in some circles as the 'Statesman's Game.'

    I have been asked by our Most Excellent Lord, The fourth Nizam of the Qasrábi, Ghazir Ikhvan al-Haanji to determine if you are suitable for a task he wishes to be accomplished. So, following in the example of the Holy Prophet, blessed by his name, I have decided to test your suitability by examining your play at Shatranj. We have no board, but I trust for one of your reputed skill that will not be an obstacle."

    "And what wager shall we play for?"

    "I have before me," replied Aram, "a commission to hunt down one Kamar Blackheart completion of which will merit a just and fair reward. If you win, I will give the commission to you. On the other hand, if I win, well I hear tell that you have amassed an interesting book collection. I will come down to your ship on the morrow and choose whichever two of them I desire."

    Matar stood up and made as if to leave. "While your offer is most generous, most honored Vizier, I am afraid that for such a little wager I would not be able to focus. If you wish me to give my all in this little test of yours, you will have to make a better wager than that one, for as it is said: if you wish to entice a bee, you do not do so with gold, but with honey."

    "You disappoint me Matar, I heard that in the capital you were a lion, that you would never refuse a challenge, no matter the wager or the odds required of you."

    "It is true, o wise Vizier, that among the gazelle, the lion stalks unafraid, taking down whom he wishes. But among the elephants, the lion steps cautiously, lest he be trampled underfoot. So tell me, which are you, a gazelle or an elephant?"

    Aram laughed, a laugh which quickly turned into a labored wheeze. "Well if my dried out meat cannot invite an attack by the hungry lion, perhaps something more to its taste will be in order. I have heard that you have been scouring the souqs searching for a particular book, The Golden Life, a book of poetry, so I hear. Well it just so happens that I have a copy, the only copy on the island, in fact, which I bought just yesterday. Perhaps if I add it to our already existing wager you will find it more enticing?"

    "Tell me Vizier, do you have nothing better to do with your time than check after what every man who lives in your city does his spare time?"

    "No, my dear Matar, I do not have anything better to do. And the day I do have something better to do is the day I will cease being Prime Vizier. For as it is written, With knowledge comes safety and the peace of the realm is secured by many eyes. Now then, unless you have a further objection, shall we begin?"

    For the first time all meeting, Matar smiled, if it could be a smile which moves the mouth but keeps the eyes cold, "I thought we had already begun."

    And if Suli is to be believed, for the first time all meeting Aram stopped smiling. "And I thought the lion treaded carefully among the elephants."

    The game itself, I am sorry to say, I never learned much about. Suli, of course, had neither the skill nor the interest to relate it. And Matar was strangely silent about the moves, though in the days that followed I would occasionally catch him starring at a chess board, as if reliving the game and trying to figure out what went wrong. If one could even say that anything went wrong. I have never seen someone as upset that he won as Matar was over that game. But while he did not talk about the game itself, he would often recount the conversation between himself and the Prime Vizier after the game, as if that conversation were in truth more important than the game itself.

    "And that, I believe, is checkmate." Matar said, his voice devoid of any kind of triumph. "It is too bad that you did not recognize the setup for the last attack ten moves ago, your knight could have sacrificed itself to stop it and thereby leave me in a terrible state."

    Aram motioned to a slave who fastidiously wiped his brow from the accumulated sweat. "I suppose age dulls the senses more than one likes to admit."

    "Dulls them even for the master Aram, who as a young boy was able to offer Queen's odds to all comers and still win?" Matar held up his hand to forestall Aram's reply, "As you said earlier, 'Knowledge brings safety," and so the reverse must also be true, 'A lack of knowledge brings danger.' I just want to know one thing, to sooth my vanity and satisfy my curiosity: when did you first decide to let me win?"

    "From the moment you stepped off your ship," Aram replied, "there were only three outcomes possible. First, that you proved yourself dangerous, in which case you would not left this garden alive; second, that you proved yourself a fool, in which case I would have easily defeated you and sent you on your way, and third, that you proved yourself dangerous, but useful, in which case you would win the game and live, at least for as long as you were useful. Whatever else you might be, you are not a fool." Aram stood, offering Matar the commission. "By the time you arrive back at your ship, you will find our wagered book already there. I advise you leave as soon as you can before I change my mind and decide you are, after all, more dangerous than useful."

    No matter how wise Matar considers Aram, it is those last words which I believe show his foolishness. For I believe if he was truly wise he would have killed Matar while he had the chance.
     
  11. ork75

    ork75 Prince

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    If it is not too late, I am going to rewrite my submission to make it more of a story and to emphasize the parts of the character I wanted to stand out most.
     
  12. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    Thlayli, if you don't update, next time you do this to us I promise I will write an even shorter and more Cockney submission, regardless of the context...
     
  13. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    Sorry about that. I ended up unexpectedly traveling on my Spring Break, which is now over. Update shall be delivered in less than 48 hours.

    Thank you all for your patience. :)
     
  14. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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  15. alex994

    alex994 Hail Divine Emperor!

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    Breadbasket of USA
    OOC: How can you end up unexpectedly traveling for a week? :p
     
  16. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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    Thlayli's life is a rollicking adventure.
     
  17. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    lurker's comment: There is collateral damage when you do that, you know.
     
  18. spryllino

    spryllino Deity

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    Yes, that was a notion intended to be mildly ironically implied, possibly along with the odd other subtext, in my post in the first place. :p
     
  19. Nuka-sama

    Nuka-sama See ya! It has been a fun decade!

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    Was my story accepted?
     
  20. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Osaka
    It was a day like any other. She awoke thinking of her father and wondered which part of the garden she would find him napping in. But he had been dead for years now and the garden was dead.

    Each day she thanked the thought. She thought it kept her alive. That lasted till she rose and walked onto the deck and saw the sea that surrounded her. The emptiness of the sea made the evening come faster.

    At night she stuffed her belly full of wine, called Telian’s name fiercely, shouted her father’s name fiercely, cried fiercely and finally laughed fiercely. The fierce laughter was a sign for the others to leave her cabin and for her boy to put her to bed.

    The boy lowered her small body down to her bed and pulled the fine sheets over her. She curled into them. He blew out the lamp, set it down from its perch and closed the door as he left. Her laughter stopped and she cried.

    The nights were too short to offer her respite from the hope of stumbling across him sleeping in some obscure corner. But each day’s dawn, hanging red in the east, reminded her blackly that one didn't meet dead people in dead gardens in this world.

    She prayed for death at these times. There had been many. But her mind would always return to the garden and her father sleeping forever in its soil.

    How long since had been there? Never. Her father was dead, they said. He was buried. But she had not seen his body. Her mother had kept it from her. On the day of his funeral she had rushed outside onto the balcony above the garden and seen the procession passing by.

    That night she asked her boy to put flowers on his tomb. He was caught and beaten for it. She was made to watch. The next day she tried wine for the first time. From that time on she drank and was known as a drunkard, prone to calling her father’s name fiercely, cry Telian’s name fiercely, cry fiercely and finally laugh fiercely.

    She laughed fiercely and her suitors fled. She was beaten for that and she laughed fiercely at it. The fierce laughs were now made through lips stained red from the blood she hacked up.

    The maids talked about the blood on her sheets. In the morning she was taken blindfolded to a room with no windows and a stout door. Still there was blood on her sheets in morning. It was then that she was beaten till her face swelled and her tongue lolled out of a misshapen mouth.

    She awoke and washed and dressed and sat with eyes staring wondering what to do. In the afternoon – she thought it was at least – she stirred and looked at her cell. Nothing but stone, a basin and hay piled in the corner.

    For months she laughed fiercely, days on end. One day she stopped.

    Next day, they came for her and held her down as they covered her head with sackcloth and bound her hands with leather.

    When the sackcloth was removed, she saw her room. Under guard, she was undressed behind a screen and the maids, who had talked about her sheets, bathed her with perfumed water and cooed over her hair as they brushed it.

    The dress was white and strung with pearls. She could see her mother’s hands in its design, the same hands that had beaten her. She should have cared but her father was dead and so was she.

    They pushed her in front of the mirror and twisted her arm till she looked. She was beautiful on that day, her dark hair shone and eyes of the deepest green looked out from under a veil of diaphanous white.

    She had not seen herself since her father’s death and was taken aback. Her face was hollowed from sorrow and it suited her. Her skin which was darker than the Astajaran wives in their first year was fashionably pale now.

    She laughed fiercely.

    They led her away and sat her at the head of a table next to a boy she had never met. He smiled, she laughed fiercely. But he was young and she was very beautiful.

    The meal was seafood. Shellfish bought from the distant coast at great expense in iceboxes stained with the blood of the porters who carried through the hills and gullies to her home. She ate and a smile creased her lips. Her mother sitting down the table, out of arms reach, also smiled.

    After the meal she was led to the high altar. The priest of Telian spoke around her. Only once did he speak to her, she only nodded. With a cheer the ceremony finished and she was led away to another room, with only a bed and nightstand in it.

    There she waited for hours, sitting on the bed, sharpening the shell she had hidden in her braid.

    Her husband came into the bridal chamber, smiling, as he lowered his pants he pulled his belt free and walked towards her.

    She lay on the bed passive, with shell hidden in hand. He struck her with the belt and cursed her for not being ready for him, even as he climbed on the bed and pawed at her dress.

    His eyes went wide and she slashed his throat and laughed fiercely.

    They call her the bloodied bride, though her real name is Gabriella de la Domine y Ixeja, Condesa de San Sevada.

    *

    Her grandfather was born Gabriel and he had no title or family name. His father had been a thief of women’s virtue. He was the product of such an escapade.

    While he father liked to think himself a rogue and a bravo, the truth of the matter was that his attention was sought because his seed was weak.

    Gabriel was his only son and while the father, the name for whom is now lost, was neither a rogue nor a bravo as he liked to think, he was no killer of young boys.

    The mewling infant was left at the House of Telian to be raised by the priests of the same. The young Gabriel knew only his father by reputation and a common reputation it was in the Jewel of the World.

    Year after year on his birthday appeared, such things as a novice needed: clothes, food and on his eighth birthday, wine.

    He never drank it but instead sold it to the priests on the sly, for they were not allowed to partake of it. In this way he grew up to be both holy and wise in the ways of man and priest.

    On his fourteenth birthday came a harlot of surpassing beauty. He turned her down and turned her to Telian. It was this act that established him.

    On his fifteenth birthday came a young man, fine of form and figure. He turned him down and consigned him to the flames. It was this act that established his reputation.

    On his sixteenth birthday, Gabriel became Manuel when he took his oath to Telian. He received no gift on that day.

    Two weeks later there was a polite knocking at the door. A manservant, livery concealed, begged Manuel’s pardon and dragged into the room a large trunk. With a bow and another begged pardon, the man departed.

    Manuel knew not what to think. But with dagger in hand, he broke the wax seal and opened the box. Within it was a letter placed atop a lead lined coffin.

    The letter read: “My dear son, you do not know me but I am certain now that you know of my reputation. It was the act of lust that killed me. Do not open the coffin, for I fear I am pestilential. All that I ask of you is that you pray for my soul.”

    Below the letter, placed with care was an envelope. Within it was a banker’s draft, a signet ring with the house mark obliterated by a rasp and a short handwritten note that informed him he had been duly appointed by the Minister of such-and-such bureau to act as His Highness’ representative for such a thing as His Highness might require.

    The wait was considerable.

    Two years after taking his vows, Manuel was sent to a village the directions for which were: “go towards the afternoon sun for three days, turn towards the morning light at San Sevada, and walk for two more days and then walk across the hills until you reach the village”.

    Manuel was in exile though he knew it not. His intelligence and zeal had forced the hand of his superiors who had no desire for a bastard to take roles long since spoken for by their kin.

    The village was a poor exile, Manuel enjoyed it. The power of his oratory soon attracted crowds from far and wide in an area poor in faith and mired in ignorance. With time Manuel stamped out the local evils and bought evil-doers to faith or to the flames.

    It was also there that he strayed. His father’s blood spoke to his loins and he spent the next three days surreptitiously cleaning the blood from his sheets. She was a fine filly and the blood of his father called his loins to attention regularly afterwards.

    However, where his father’s loins had been all smoke and no fire, he had no such luck. Her womb cried and his seed answered and with that came a son. Like his father, Manuel was no child killer, and like his father he dedicated his son to Telian.

    Unlike his father, Manuel gave no thought on even the day of his birth to the material things in life. Instead, Manuel prayed for himself and for the salvation he thought he had lost.

    It was on one such a day, perhaps when he was twenty or twenty one, that the royal equerry found him and threatened his life.

    Perhaps the equerry spoke in jest but Manuel used to the violent ways of the herders of his new home struck him down even as he spoke. The equerry fell from his horse and broke his neck on a rock.

    Startled by the man now lying limp as an eel caught in a trap, Manuel could think only to roll the body down the gully which adjoined his house and which served also as his midden.

    It was only later that he thought to check the satchel the man had been carrying. Within it was a letter addressed to One Manuel the Priest who had dwelled in such-and-such a Church. The hand was elegant and the paper was more elegant still.

    What was written is not known, save that it was signed by His Highness’ hand and was in His Highness’ own hand. It is said that Manuel memorised the letter and burned it. Perhaps it contained the truth of his parentage though that is doubtful given the great care his father had taken.

    What is known is that Manuel left the village, with a pouch filled with the coin of the dead man and his maidservant following him, laughing fiercely.

    *

    Her grandmother was called at birth Tenmapela which means ‘One whose hair is white’. As she grew older and her hair darked and she began to speak her name was changed to Malianala which means ‘she who is like the laughing lizards’.

    As she grew breasts and bled between her legs, she was sold. Her father claimed that the harvest had been bad and that the situation and circumstances demanded sacrifices and that were he not to sell her, her siblings, whom he assured her she loved, would starve.

    Though she was young, she knew this to be a lie because as she led away in chains she saw looked back and saw the hills were tall with green growth.
     

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