And before we see the varying death scenes, I have just a few notes. I have not been able to get anyone to look over the results - I hope you do not mind, I have tried to be as fair as possible. I would rather get them out today then wait around, hoping someone can look over them.
The results are in order, from lowest to highest. Please do not be offended - if you are low, it does not necessarily mean you are not a good writer/role-player, simply that others have bettered you in this Challenge. As everyone already knows eachothers characters, there is no point being anonymous - again, I hope you do not mind.
I think now is the time for drum rolls.
James lay in bed, beads of sweat rolling down his chest. He had woken from a regular nightmare; of the day he had lost his father right before his eyes. The images haunted his dreams every night, causing him pain and suffering. He kicked at the sheets, pushing them down to the bottom of his bed. He walked downstairs to his newly acquired home. Acquired, well he kind of stole the house. But he paid some money for it, but the money was for the residents to leave. He entered his training room without a sound. He went to the computer, and selected random exercise. The computer scrolled down the list of programs, then halted, then the screen turned red, and started flashing. An alarm sounded, and the security cameras placed around the house came up on the screen. Men were flooding through the front door-which now lay on the ground-and were searching the house.
James had to think quickly. He had to get out of there, and do something to keep himself hidden. These people had been tracking him for aeons and he thought he had lost them by moving. He picked shoot out on the computer, commanded the holograms to shoot only at the soldiers when they entered this room. The holograms of soldiers came to life. James walked to the middle and waited for the soldiers to come bashing through the door. Three seconds later it happened. They came running in shouting then stoped dead as the holographic soldiers started to fire.
The real soldiers ran out of the room screaming. The holograms disappeared running after the soldiers. James ran to his room, and collected all the gear he would need. Bellow this house there was a cave tucked into the cliff-face. He would go there and hide out for a while, and then when all of this settled down he would make his move and bring them down from the inside. He pushed various items into a backpack, then climbed out the window and fell on to the mulch bellow him.
He rolled off the pile and ran to the side of the cliff, and looked over the cliff. He ran to a stake in the ground, and tied a long rope to it. He made sure the knot would come undone with the proper flick and a pull. This precaution made sure he was unable to be followed. He would just climb up when he felt it was safe. It would be rough, but he was sure he would manage. As he climbed down hanging on to the rope tightly placing his feet carefully in cracks and rocks that were protruding from the cliff-face.
After twenty minutes James was within ten meters on the small cave. He worked quickly climbing down the rocks and making sure his feet were placed properly. Within five minutes he was hanging in the air in front of the cave. He started swinging back and forth until he jumped into the cave. He steadied himself, then walked to the rope and started flicking it until the whole thing fell down into the crashing waves bellow him.
“Hello there James,” said a voice from the shadows. James turned around instantly and squinted at the darkness. “Don’t make any dangerous moves or you’ll be the one in danger. Now sit.”
James started walking then he stopped. He wished he had his katanas with him, but he didn’t think he would need them.
“Sit down James, now!”
“No! I will not be pushed around like this. You want me to do something, then you will have to force me to do it!” he roared.
The man sighed, and then came out of the shadows. He was Asian and had short black hair. He was wearing some kind of robe like a monk. He lunged at James, but he was running for the exit of the cave. He twisted around grabbing at the cliff and started scrabbling for foot and hand holds. As quick as possible he climbed up the cliff, being pursued.
Up ahead, James saw a root hanging out from the cliff face about five meters up. He picked up his pace. Just as his fingers touched the root his leg was grabbed. He made that last final effort to get a firm grip on the root, and then he spun around hanging on to the root, and kicked away at the man’s hands. This was meant to cause the man to fall down the cliff in to the rocks bellow, but he held on firmly. James kicked his face, and continued climbing. Then a gun shot was heard popping. The bullet flew up and hit James piercing his spinal cord.
His body jolted and he fell towards the sea. As he fell, his life flashed over his eyes, then his head hit a rock, snapping his neck, and he sunk down to the bottom of the sea.
His killer, clutched at the cliff looking at James as he sunk into the water, the sea salt spraying in his hair.
Let's start with some critique. What lost this person marks was the stuttured writing style, the "he did this, then he did that and then he did that." Parts of it were simply narrating what was happening, instead of actually being the character, and so the writing didn't flow and as a reader, I didn't feel attached to the character. Leading on from that, I didn't get much of a feel for the character himself. There was very little emotion, and not very much characterisation.
However the grammar and the description was very good, an improvement from the last challenge. When reading it, I could visualise what was happening very clearly. The first half of the opening paragraph was also very good, where we can empathise with the character and we see his emotions.
The next two I really didn't know which one to put first, so let's just say they're roughly equal.
A cold laugh echoed through the castle halls as Rosalind and Steve—Stephano now as he now changed into his normal fae form—ran. Chills ran through their spine. Rosalind had been in Fairie for two months now and she always suspected that Titania, her Step-mother resented her for being the only heir to the throne, but not enough to want to kill her.
Her feet hurt as she ran but Stephano pulled her behind him. Great sobs came out from her mouth, her heart pounded in her chest. She couldn’t breath very well. A sudden jolt was felt from her arm and she was dragged into a separate room. Stephano pressed up against the wall, holding Rosalind close. Their breath came in deep gasps and sweat rolled down their faces. Blood trickled down Stephano’s cheek, a sign of battle. He turned and placed two hands firmly on Rosalind’s shoulders, he looked deep into her eyes.
“Rosalind, I’m going to keep Titania at bay, for a while. I want you to run and whatever you do don’t look back, even if you hear me cry understand?” He instructed.
Rosalind closed her eyes and shook her head. “No, it’s a fools errand Stephano,” she sobbed. Stephano raised her chin and kissed her passionately. His lips were soft.
“It’s the only way now go!” He yelled and pushed her out the door. “And don’t forget Rosalind, I love you.” She looked at him one last time, he pointed down the hall.
She did as she was told and ran. Blinded by fear she criss-crossed this way and that, not knowing where she was going. She heard a piercing scream behind her and she fell to her knees. She bent forward and held her arms tightly, her nails digging into her arms. Blood dripped down onto the floor.
In the beginning, Fairie had been a place for sanctuary, a place where she could hone her magic without fear of being killed. From the explanation she was excited in coming and excited to be learning her heritage. That was no longer so, she now lived in constant fear. Oberon and Stephano had already been killed and she had no more magic to use to fight Titania. She sniffed.
“Well, welll, well what do we have hear?” A voiced sang. It sounded familiar to her. She looked up with red eyes. The hooded figure stepped out from the shadow. “It seems that I’ve finally caught my prey.” He motioned his hand upwards and Rosalind rose off the ground.
She began to shake as she was brought closer to him. “You sicken me.” She spat in his face. Her last feeble attempt at protecting herself.
“Shut your mouth wench!” He snapped and snapped his fingers. Her mouth was stitched shut. She whined, that sounded something like a dog. He laughed and placed her on the ground, he spun her and wrapped his arms around her neck.
Footsteps were heard walking towards them. Titania soon stepped into the light, blood staining her hands and a smile spread across her face. Her eyes screamed murder. “Hello little Princess.” She stopped and took Rosalind’s face into one of her hands. “What a shame I have to kill you, you were pretty.” She slapped her. “But that’s what Fairie gets! If I could not produce an heir for Fairie then Fairie does not get an heir,” she cried.
Titantia walked a few paces away from them, Rosalind still shaking like a leaf. She hadn’t been more scared in her life. She looked up towards the ceiling, tears still streaming down her face. How she wished to be at home with her mum. How she wished she never accepted Oberon’s offer to come to Fairie. How she wished she never learned she was half Fae.
Titania turned once again and pulled a silver bladed knife from her sleeve. “Killing Stephano was easy. And killing you will be just as easy.” She gave another laugh and brought down the knife. It slid into her breast easily.
Rosalind felt herself fall to the ground and land with a thud on the stone ground. The hooded figure gave a bow and disappeared in a cloud of black smoke. Blood streamed out of her body and pooled around her. She slowly felt herself become lighter than air itself, dying wasn’t all that bad. Her last image was of Titania walking away. She closed her eyes gently.
“Rosalind,” someone called. “Rosalind, come here.”
She opened her eyes and saw Stephano smiling at her; he reached out a hand. She took it warmly and felt his fingers curl up around her own. He pulled her close and wrapped his arms around her. “Is this heaven?” She asked.
“It’s whatever you want it to be Rosalind.” Stephano continued to smile
One thing is that much of the history felt very narrated. Where it goes "In the beginning, Fairie had been a place for sanctuary, a place where she could hone her magic without fear of being killed" it breaks the flow of tension, seemingly forced there to explain what has already happened. There are also a few grammatical mistakes and some sentences that didn't seem to fit (ie. "She hadn’t been more scared in her life.") There were some short sentences which flowed beautifully, "His lips were soft." It is said so simply that it reflects all the love the character feels; there are other sentences, "She sniffed." which in the middle of a tense paragraph doesn't quite fit.
Again, I loved the opening sentence in this one. Immediately we are given a connection with the last post and we are given a hint, a suggestion of where they are and what mystical things have happened to them. There were whole paragraphs here, particularly the 6th one, which were so full of tension and you could really feel the emotion, the fear in this character.
I sit in the attic, squinting at a wrinkled sheet of paper. Even if my eyes were better, my hand had been shaking so much at the time that I wrote it, it was nearly impossible to read.
“A fortune teller?” I laughed incredulously “There’s no way I’m getting some crazy witch to tell my fortune!”
“Ah, don’t say that too loudly. She doesn’t take kindly to talk like that,” Sal advised, unloading a crate of food from the back of the caravan.
“I’ll say it as loud as I want,” I huffed. “Crazy. Witch.”
“Oh come on, it’s all in fun,” Madison said, taking a few steps around the fire that Smith had started. “What do you think, Julian?” she asked.
Julian struggled to balance the water jug between his only hand and his chest. “I don’t know, I’ve heard that getting your fortune told is bad luck. Terrible things have happened to those who hear their fates.”
Madison snatched the jug away from him and set it on the ground before he dropped it. “I could have done that,” Julian mumbled, sitting down next to the fire. There was a chill in the air now that the sun was setting and we each inched closer to it as the flames grew.
“Well,” Smith said “I wonder why no one’s asked me?”
I chuckle. At the time it was so unlike Smith to say that. Now I can see why he’d want to know his future.
“No!” I cried suddenly “I’ll go first. You need to set up your tent anyway, don’t you?”
He shrugged. “It doesn’t matter to me,” he replied as he returned to the caravan to take his supplies out.
Again, I laugh. I had such a complex about not being outdone by Smith. There had been nothing to prove by going.
I skim through the last few paragraphs in that chapter.
“Do you have a question?” The old woman asked. Her face was so wrinkled I couldn’t see her eyes.
I hadn’t thought about what I wanted to know about before I came in. There were so many questions I could have asked, but I picked the only one that mattered. “Will I ever become a writer?”
She stared at me stupidly. “Is that it?”
“Close your eyes,” she said.
I obeyed. I felt her smooth fingertips gently press against my eyelids. “The answer is yes. But be wary, for your final goal of finishing what you’ve started will eventually end in your demise…”
This final paragraph is still unnerving. If finishing what I started means what I think it means, then my own words are fated to kill me.
I shake my head and pick up my pen. When did I become so superstitious? Even if this were to cause my death, I have no regrets; except maybe not having paid that inn keeper, the poor man.
I’ve lived a long life. Many years it’s been since these events occurred and I am old. I have a wife. My son and daughters have been wedded. If I were to die today I would be complete. My life was given meaning by the people I met. I owe it to the ones who are gone to finish their stories as well.
I owe it even to myself to finish the book. What a proper way for an author to die, ending along with his novel.
Finally I press my pen into the paper and write. The words don’t flow as well as they should, but it brings back memories of a younger me—one who couldn’t write a sentence to save his life. Well, now I have an entire novel to my name, complete and perfect in every way. It was well worth the wait.
After a few long hours of writing I take the pen away and look at my work. I find the rest of my papers and set them on top.
Shakily I stand up, afraid the world will fall out beneath my feet. “I did it!” I exclaim, my voice is not as strong as I expect.
“Did what?” Linda, my wife, asks, appearing at the door to the attic.
“I finished the book,” I said, smiling.
“Oh, that’s so wonderful, Daniel!” she answers, embracing me.
I groan and clutch the lapels of my shirt near my chest. “What’s wrong? Is it your heart again?” she wonders worriedly.
The rhythmic pounding of my heart has come to a dead stop. The pain is wrenching at my ribs.
Suddenly my legs go numb and I fall to the floor. My weight is too much for Linda to support alone.
“Daniel! Don’t do this!” Linda cries, panic stricken. The last thing I hear is her pained scream.
A folded piece of paper slips out of my hand. My last hope is that Linda reads it. She’s on that dedication page, as well as all the worthy people—dead or alive—who helped make my dream a reality.
I love the way the backstory is re-told here, through the book that the character has written; the idea of the book that we are reading inside the book that we are reading is always interesting (I hope that makes sense!)
What lacked within this piece was the story that has already occured - from what I can gather the fortune teller says that when he finishes writing, he will die. But this is supposed to be the end of a long, eventful role-play so surely other things must've happened? Though we see the development of the character as a writer, we see little of their development as a person which is what brought this piece down.
The next two are within half a point of each other! It's ridiculously close and I spent forever re-reading them to try and see which one should come first.
So, in second place we have...
The cell was cold and almost silent, only broken by a constant dripping from somewhere unseen; a faceless clock, ticking away the seconds – a methodical, unconventional countdown to a hanging in the gallows. And then this maddening almost-silence was broken by a scream; a scream that left the cold stone ringing. Whose scream? Nathan wasn't sure. The dripping stopped. Nathan had long since lost count, anyway.
“Please, Nathan,” Isabella whispered hoarsely from somewhere in the darkness. “Please, no more shouting. I can't take it anymore.”
Isabella was lying slouched in the corner. Nathan raised a tender hand to her pale face – it was bloodied, still wet. Had someone hit her? He picked the hair away. If he had water he could clean the wound, but there was nothing to be found here except moonlight, metal, rock and despair. He cradled the girl in his arms. How many days had it been? How much longer did they have left to live?
He woke a few hours later to the sound of a muffled sob. At the sight of him Isabella flinched away. Why? He reached out towards her but stopped when she let out a frightful cry.
“Forgive me, Master,” she said weakly. Master? How long had it been since she had called him that?
“Isabella, Isabella. It'll be okay,” Nathan promised. “We'll escape somehow.” And yet, these words sounded like a bitter lie on his tongue. He wanted them to be true; he wanted to protect her, to save her from the madness that he had brought her into. But how could he? He was an Angel with clipped wings. He had led them both to capture, and now they were at the mercy of the most merciless enemy – the cruel and wicked government that they had avoided for so long.
A man came for them at dawn. He avoided their eyes as he spoke, but his voice was strong and clear.
“Nathaniel Kerr, Sutherland Angel, and his human slave.” He paused. 'Perhaps for effect,' Nathan thought dryly. “It is time.”
The walk to the gallows took longer than Nathan expected. The whispers followed him; voices that he thought he had escaped. They laughed at him. 'You'll never see him again,' they said. Isabella trudged at his side, staring down at her at her bound wrists and crying silently. But he paid her no attention. His thoughts were on someone else.
“I wanted to see you just once more,” he whispered to himself. 'Just once more, I would have liked to have seen your face and felt your lips against my skin.' He closed his eyes, remembering. Or, perhaps, trying to forget.
Something exploded loudly up ahead. “What's this?” shouted an angry voice of a guard. Nathan opened his eyes to a cascade of rubble and dust. For a moment there was nothing but the sound of gunfire, the smell of gunpowder and thick, white cloud, and then a rough hand grabbed his arm and he was pulled free from his escorts.
“Quickly,” demanded a voice – a voice that Nathan recognized. He was dragged through smoke that burned his throat. He stepped over a body and tripped over stones - but every time he fell, those strong fingers pulled him back up again.
"Roman." The name tasted unfamiliar - it had been so long. The rope slackened around his wrists.
"Fukc," Roman rasped, "Can you fly?" but before he received a reply they were up in the air, Roman cradling him like a child.
"Isabella," Nathan whispered.
They landed roughly and Roman pushed Nathan away. Nathan looked over the edge of the cliff - below, dozens of guards scrambled around without order, shouting, swearing. Nathan could see the rest of the Angels in the distance, flying East. 'Isabella must be with them,' he thought. "But why aren't we-?"
He stopped mid sentence. Roman lay back against a tree, a hand to his chest. Blood seeped through his fingers and his eyes were closed against the pain. 'A bullet wound to the heart?'
"No," Nathan whispered as he staggered forward. "No!" 'All these years I've been looking for you. You can't leave me now!' "It'll be okay..."
"Not this time, Nathan" 'Nathan. Not slave, or slut.' Roman slid further down the tree and Nathan jumped to catch him. Time seemed to freeze as Nathan clung to him. 'Don't leave me. I won't live without you.'
"But I don't mind dying, if it's for you.” Roman whispered. He brushed away a tear on Nathan's cheek, but his hand shook and blood flecked his lips. “I'm glad I got to see you...one... last time."
No birds sang as his eyes went still or as his fingers slid from Nathan's face to the ground. No words were spoken as Nathan kissed his warm lips and closed his eyes. And no tears were shed as Nathan took the gun from Roman's belt, checked it for ammunition and put the barrel to his head.
He closed his eyes and wondered vaguely as he pulled the trigger, 'do Angels go to heaven when they die?'
And in first place, we have...
It all started on a Monday, seven A.M.
We had just turned six the previous evening, and the festivities lasted into the night. Sleep weighed my lashes, but I had to get up. Ariel’s black, curly head peeked out from beneath his luxurious quilts, deep in sleep.
“Prince,” I implored, kneeling by his bed, “You have to get up for the tutor.”
Ariel moaned. “Nooo…”
Easy for him to say: he wasn’t the whipping boy. “You have to go.”
Mumbles, but I caught the end: “…you go?” Brilliant idea, really; the only way to distinguish a clone from his master was a tattoo at the nape of the neck. Our hair was long enough, so I slid on his silky robes for the first time.
“Urgh. Tessa is coming—no doubt Father is trying to court us again,” Ari whined as I got poked with pins for his dress robe, and he primped his lanky teenage body in the mirror.
“Her family has been prominent since the Earthen days,” the tailor started, but Ari cut him off.
“Blah, blah, politically advantageous, I know. Will you get me a water, please?”
The tailor was no sooner gone than Ariel was undressing me. “You’ll go for me, right?” I didn’t have a choice, so we switched clothes, names, faces. When the tailor came back, I fussed how the red would compliment my golden-brown skin for princely effect.
I went to many parties for the Prince. More, perhaps, than he did. Tonight, the castle was decked in swaths of silver, the food was exquisite, and I delighted in being the only clone to have ever sat in the presence of the king—except, of course, his own clone.
The king died that dreadful Tuesday night. It wasn’t really a surprise: he was old, his time was coming. We all knew it, but mid-party wasn’t ideal timing. It created a scene, firstly. Secondly, I was immediately ushered to the dungeons where my kinghood was granted—the ceremony would come later. I tried to argue, but no one listened, thinking I was upset over nerves or my “father’s” death.
The crown felt heavy on my head, a weightiness that sunk deep into my chest.
By Wednesday morning, Ariel and I were locked in separate parts of the castle, without seeing each other. A king was isolated for safe keeping and his clone worked both as a decoy for assassination, as well as a donor for injury or sickness. To avoid both king and clone being hurt or killed in the same situation, they were kept always close, but always apart.
Luckily, being presumed king had its advantages: I threw enough of a fit that a meeting with Ariel was arranged for a later date. In the meantime, I could handle the kingly duties—probably better than Ariel, since I went to school for him most days anyway.
Almost a year passed before Ariel and I could finally meet. I almost canceled again. I liked my new life, and there was so much I wanted to do for my people, for clones. We had no rights protecting us from abuse, and I could make a vital difference. Ari never wanted the responsibility of king, was disgusted by the idea of marriage. I could give him the easy life he wanted, while remaining king.
Thursday night, I asked the cooks to serve a full course meal. Then I sent for Ariel.
Ariel still walked with a swagger, but his brown eyes were darker. I stood to greet him; he didn’t smile. We were being watched, so I motioned for him to lean in.
“I never meant for this, but I’ll take care of you.”
He took my head in his hands gently, as if he were going to kiss me. He pressed the side of his head against mine, and I felt his hot breath on my ear. “I hate you,” he murmured, lips brushing against my earlobe.
I HATE you.
His hands slid down to my neck and squeezed, shouting. He bashed my head against the back of my chair with each word: “He. Is. Not. The. King.”
The guards pulled us apart, and he pointed out the tattoo on my neck. I lived his life for too long, however; I was the only one who knew the answers to most of the “only the king would know” questions. It was possible that tattoos could be removed on one and done on another, but was it possible a clone could pass as king?
In the end, his story was more believable than mine.
I was sentenced to death for a Friday in January. I thought it was appropriate; the most common month to die is January, the most common day is Friday. Despite my efforts, I was nothing: just an artificial body with a fake name and fake face, insignificant and average at best.
For two months, I waited for death in a grey cell.
It was a public execution. I was led naked and blindfolded onto a stage. I could hear the crowd roaring. They threw things at me.
It got quiet. I didn’t know why, until Ariel pulled my blindfold down and looked into my eyes, reflections of his own. “All the clones in the capital are following you.” He turned my head and I saw shackled people in line to die. Clones.
He knelt me in front of the guillotine, and I felt oddly calm when I heard the blade released. It was the last thing I remembered.
With the death of the “King of Clones” came revolution, but really it just started with a miserable Monday morning.
Just a little note, what pushed Limey's piece just that little bit forward is the skill in the way that it's written, and that until the very end we don't understand what this leads to. And then, when we read the last sentence we realise that this story, that seemed to only affect those few characters, actually had far reaching consequences.
That, and she managed to create an entire world in 950 words (she was given extra as she did not do the introductory challenge so needed more room to introduce the character) which a history, without making it sound forced or pressed for space.
So congratulations to all of you who gave your entries in, they were all a wonder to read. Please don't hesitate to give each other critisisim, especially as I'm not too good at it.
And remember... constant vigilance!