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Rathgar
02-06-2005, 19:10
Hey all! first time I've ever posted on this forum, I really like to write short fantasy stories in my spare time (but I'm not very good :( ). A while ago I had an idea for a story about a group of thieves who go on one last job before they settle down…

Anyhow its not set in any GW world just some random fantasy one. I've only written a very short start to give an idea the direction I want to take it.

So what do you think? Worth continuing or should I just give up on the writing now :p


"The Red Hand?
The order of the Red Hand are reputed not to take prisoners, but that's untrue. They do. Its just that none of them survive.
Wonder why none of them survive?
Look at my comrade; I broke him out three days after he was captured. In that time they took his right arm, most of his left leg, one of his ears, his tongue and both his eyes. I'll spare you the details of where and how they cut and burnt him.
He should have bled to death, but he didn't. he should have died of trauma and the cold when I dragged him thought the icy underworld sea to escape, but he didn't.
It took the healing lore of seven of Saaven's priests to save what remained of his body, the forges of Kazam the dwarf and his iron and copper workers to replace his leg and arm and a sorcerer who I shall not name to return to him his sight. His soul should have given up the ruined husk in was clinging too. But it didn't
Quite remarkable isn't it? You can hardly tell they aren't eyes in this light. When I asked him if he wanted to speak again he refused, I don't think anyone could take what he has to say anyway. I should have granted him mercy, I should have let him die. But I didn’t. I… couldn't."

"So you won't do it then?"

"Oh we'll do it, but I hope you'll understand, friend, that if you want us to steal from the Red Hand it's going to cost you."

Grom
02-06-2005, 19:29
I likes! :D

More! More!

Rathgar
02-06-2005, 20:28
Ok knocked a bit more of the story together;

//

Garon tossed a small leather purse onto the table, a satisfying "chink" resounded on its impact.

"20 dracmars now, another 80 if you get me the staff" he said

"Done" replied the thief who had spoken first. The purse promptly disappeared under his rain-faded cloak. If he was trying to look inconspicuous in it, the company he kept more than destroyed his hard work. Aside from Garon two others sat at the inn table. Even in the dim light their figures were striking. One was a giant of a man, his bare arms a criss-cross of scars, dreadlocks obscuring the scowl which held a permanent residence on his face.

The other was hardly a man at all.

"Very well then, contact me when you are successful. You know how. Oh and I hear you and you men are the best Jarh, don't fail me." Garon's aristocratic accent clashed harshly with the rustic surrounds.

"10 days Garon. 10 days and we'll have the staff. And then YOU had better no fail us. I think its time we took our leave, eh gentlemen? Good day to you sir"

The dread-ed behemoth grunted something.

"Suit-your-self Ajax, just don't come home drunk you overgrown hay-stack!"

Ajax grunted a conformation and with that Jarh and the other thief departed.

Garon shifted in his seat uneasily Ajax had fixed him with a stare, even beneath the mass of hair his eyes gleamed. Predator's eyes.
Sweat started to drip from his forehead. What if this brute thought to kill him and take the money now? Gargon cursed himself for leaving his bodyguard. And his sword for that matter.
Ajax leaned in towards Gargon, beckoning him to do the same.

Gargon's ear was next to the man's mouth now he could feel his harsh, hot breath and taste the metallic tang of copper. Gargon clenched his eyes as tight as he could. Teeth, he must have some metal teeth. It was common enough these days. Still…

"Do not presume sir, that you are a man's better just because you have a heavy purse than him. Or that a few hired cut-throats aren’t schooled in the legends."

The voice was of a thug, but the words…

"Now I for one am no fool, sir, so if you expect me to not have heard of the Obsidian Staff or the legends that surround it you are gravely mistaken.
Saaven's own staff they say it was sir, till it was taken from him and…heh….changed. Some whisper it’s the source of The Red Hand's power. I've even herd tell the things ALIVE.
Course this is all rumors and hearsay, and educated men such as yourself and I, we don't listen to hearsay do we? Not unless we detect a glimmer of truth in it anyway. "

Garon's whole body refused to move the chill grip of fear took him and doubt whispered to him: "he knows"

"I wonder what you want with it, sir? If the rumors are true and all…
But ha! Rumors, a man never grew rich of rummors eh?"

Ajax grinned. Scares scurried out of the way of the smile.

"In-indeed not" Garon replied

A moment later he was alone at the table. There was no turning back now.

Rathgar
03-06-2005, 00:24
//

The Obsidian Staff whispered to the night.

Of lost hopes, of forgotten love, of an age now past.

Of revenge.

//

It was almost too easy. The Red Hand was a large organisation, a lot of mouths to feed. Every month a few of the monks sailed a barge into the city loaded it with supplies and sailed back to the Citadel.

The barge was currently on its return journey to The Red Hand's stronghold across the underworld sea. It was hardly a sea, more a large lake, but vast enough to make anyone standing on the bank think it stretched for eternity.
The sun was setting and beneath the water the soul-lights were becoming visible, darting shapes which flickered between darkness and light, casting a glow across the water as if the moon had drowned beneath the waves. Lost in the deep abyss.
No wonder then, that this place was said to be the gate to the netherworld, The Underworld Sea.
The water was ice cold, so cold that all heat was driven before it. It radiated chill. The figures on the barge shivered and drew their dark red cloaks about them.

Jarh was one of them.

The monks didn't even bother to stay together when in the city. Each would set about collecting the food or wares that he had been ordered to collect and then return to the barge.
One of the monks was now sinking though the sea toward the after-life, his slit throat leaving a wispy trail of blood through the water.

Jarh grinned beneath his mask. The monks wore masks. It was almost too easy.
They'd got in this way before, for the rescue, the stupid monks must not have work out how they did it he thought. Arrogance. Well tonight it would be their downfall.

//

Endless corridors, endless. It was just has he remembered, except this time he didn't have the screams of a dear friend to guide him.
That fool Garon wanted then to go much deeper into the Citadel then before.
Well the pay was good and the Hand were due some vengeance. If Garon and his men were the ones to dish it out, so much the better.

Jarh had slipped away from the others whilst the barge was being unloaded. So many figures scurried about through the stone labyrinth, the flickering torches only deepening the shadows and darkness, than none questioned another hurrying initiate.

Jarh winced as he passed a large bared door, its hinges corroded through the damp and time. The cries from within signaled its nature.
The torture chambers. The monks considered it their highes art.

"Well you'll not have to see the horrors this time Jarh old man, not unless you get caught that is." he whispered to himself.

//

Ajax decapitated the monk with one swift sword stroke. Four hours cramped up in a small box had done nothing to ease this temper. His friend crushed another's skull in his clawed hand, the crack reverberated off the wet stone walls so that it sounded like a thunder clap.

"They'll know were here now, that’s for sure. No one gets into the archives without a diversion. And we're about to cause one hell of a distraction." shouted Ajax above the sound of running feet.

The other nodded

Rathgar
03-06-2005, 10:37
//

This was it. The Archives. The door loomed in front of Jarh.
Its was exquisitely crafted, etched spirals weaved in and out of glowing runs as if the very metal itself was desperate to escape like some mistreated vine. And in the centre the emblem of the Red Hand hummed with barely contained power.
No keyhole, there wasn't a lock in the world the Jarh couldn't pick but this thing couldn't be open by a key.
Words, he thought there'd be a word that breaks the wards and opens the door.

Well not time for that, he kicked the door as hard as he could, so hard he winced in pain as the door's spells refused his access. And again, and again.

Then the hinges broke. And the portal tumbled back into the far chamber with a crash.

"Idiots didn't enchant the hinges!"

The humming form the door had changed pitch, it sounded like a swarm of angry bees sealed within a wooden coffin all of them hurling them-selves against the side to escape.
It sounded defeated.

The Archives.
Vast arches stretched overhead, propping up the far distant roof. Platforms and walkways and ladders jutted off from the main causeway, there were no lights, no torches instead from beneath the gaps between the platforms dull moonshine washed the chamber in a sickly green glow. The Archives had no floor, at base level was the Underworld sea and all the horrors it contained. Row after row after row of pedestals, some empty, many not.
Jahrl broke into a run the others had bought him this much time, but against the full force of the monks, they were doomed.

And at last, he reached the centre of the chamber, where all the walkways lead. Form above it would have looked like some 12 pointed star, but twisted and bent out of shape into a mockery of the uniform perfection it could be.
And there, on a simple stone block sat the staff.
Jarh was disappointed, it was nothing like the rumours had said. Nothing like what Garon had told them. Still, it was the prize and he was going to take it.

The moment he grasped the staff the assault on his senses began, waves of nausea washed over him, forcing him to his knees. Voices, a thousand voices whispered to him all in unison but at the same time all working against each other clashing. The world span.

Jarh forced himself to his feet, trembeling.

"I think you'll find the staff is mine, thief."

Jarh turned. Sweat was poring off him now and his vision was becoming clouded and still the voices whispered

…free…

Three figures advanced across the walkway Jarh had taken. Two were captains of The Hand, that was clear from the gold trim of their red robes and the wickedly shaped halberds they held in their hands. The other was just a child, a girl no older than six, tightly clutching a bundle in her hands. Yet it had been her who spoke.

"Who… who are you?" he stammered

"This is captain Aro and captain Varsh of The Order of the Red Hand." said the girl.

…us…

"And I am the abbot."

…free…

Jarh forced a grin.

"But you're just a child? How can you run The Hand?"

…us…

"Very well I think you'll find, my father taught me well. Foolish thief! No one steals from me, NO ONE! You and your friends will pay for your transgressions against us."

…kill…

Now the girl smiled.

"You're employer already has."

She dropped whatever it was she was holding. There was a dull organic thud as it landed at Jarh's feet.
He looked down, and Garon's lifeless eyes stared back at him.

…her...

Rathgar
03-06-2005, 13:04
//

He'd have been dead by now if it wasn't for Karl. Thought Ajax.

Karl, well that was what they used to call him. He missed his laughter, missed his witty conversation. Whatever he was now was a far cry form the man he used to be.
Well he was reaping his vengeance now and that was for certain. The monks didn’t stand a chance, even the ones skilled in combat. Not even crossbows were stopping him. Half of what they hit was metal and the other half was so accustomed to pain that the bolts made small impact.

They'd been running since the alarm had been sounded. Even with the unstoppable monstrosity that was Karl if they stopped to face down their pursuers they'd be overwhelmed.

"Karl! Do you have any idea where we're heading?" inquired Ajax as he dispatched another of their assailants who had tried to jump them as they rounded a corner.

Karl shook his head

"Another ingenious plan form our brave leader! 'You two wander around lost and try not to die while I get the loot' next time I get to make the plan."

They both ginned, although it was hard to tell what expressions Karl's twisted mouth was pulling.

Ajax limped slightly behind as the continued to flee away from the cries of "stop thief!"
He'd taken a crossbow bolt in the leg a few hundred meters back. Just a flesh wound but the weapons of the Red Hand were coated in substances that amplified pain to its peak. When it came to pain they were the most learned of scholars. Every time he put his weight on it the anguish burst into flower.
He needed to stop if even just for a moment, but there would be no respite till they were out of this hole.

He prayed that Jarh knew what he was doing

//

That’s all for now. Got a few ideas for the directions I could take it in, but I'm going to wait and see what you guys think so far before writing anymore. :D

Grom
03-06-2005, 13:37
Wonderfully imaginative. I love the way that you lead the reader on through a liberal sprinkling of hints and foreshadowing, rather than spelling everything out. The rather spare narration works well too - you build plenty of atmosphere without vast reams of overwrought description. Characterisation and dialogue are pretty decent too - although all the 'theives' seem to speak in more-or-less the same offhand 'tone'.

It does have more than its fair share of (often fairly serious) typos though - which is a little offputting at times, as well as an occasional clumsy turn of phrase, and I would prefer it if you'd write numbers as words, rather than numerals.

On the whole though, it's an extremely good first draft, which, like all first drafts, is in need of a bit of polishing here and there. However, it's a genuinely gripping story, which has me eagerly awaiting the next installment - and that's the most telling praise, I think.

More please, and quickly! :)

Rathgar
03-06-2005, 13:51
Thanks very much! Yer, reading it through again Ajax and Jarh don't really have much that tells them apart, they've kind of melded into the same character . I shall try and remedy that in the next part!

Sorry about the typos, my spelling is awful so I'm running everything through word first. Unfortunately I'm rubbish at proof reading too! Hope it doesn't get In the way of the story too much.

The next (and maybe final) part should be finished some time this evening.

Rathgar
03-06-2005, 19:08
//

Jarh took a step back, clumsily bumping into the pedestal behind him.

"You thought it would be this easy? No one had ever broken into my house before and lived. You and your friends were the first.
And I don't like it when people steal from me. You stole one of my play-things and tried to fix him. You can't fix people like you fix toys.
I know, I've taken apart both. People are more fun."

Fear placed her frosty hand on Jarh's shoulder.
He was no fighter, oh he could stab a man in the back and maybe slit a throat or two, but in a fair fight he was next to useless. If he tried to use his sword to get out of this one he'd die.

Ajax was the muscle, even if he did protest about it.
Karl had always been the charmer, the information gatherer. People he causally talked to over a tankered often found themselves revealing their innermost secretes. He radiated cheer and good-will. A talent that had proven vastly useful in his chosen profession.
That was until he'd tried to charm his way into the Hand's Stronghold.

And still the voices. They seemed to be growing louder, more purposeful. He needed time, stall her, keep her talking it’s the only chance you have he thought.

"And how does one so young get to rule the most feared order in the Holy Desert?"

"Ha!" spat the girl "One so young! My father was the last Abbot. He left it all to me, taught me everything. And he made sure I'd be safe, forever."

Jarh brow creased as he tried to untangle the girl's words. He couldn't think with that damn chanting in his head. Mostly it was unintelligible, the hundreds of voices mingling in discord. But a few words broke free, appearing crystal clear in his consciousness.

…imprisoned……eternal…freedom…kill…

He wished Ajax were here, the big oaf may have looked stupid, but his mind was as strong as his arm. It had saved them all before. He was a wild card Ajax, just as likely to use violence as reason to solve a problem.

"Give me the staff, thief."

Jarh shook his head. He could jump of the walkway, take his chance with the sea.

"Give it to me! Father gave it to me, it keeps me safe I need it. I'll make you hurt thief, give it to me!!"

Jarh turned and ran, leaping over the pedestal.
In mid air he stopped, his joints ceased up, his whole body felt numb and he tumbled to the stone, his knee jarring against it.
He tried to scream out in pain but his cheat wouldn't move. He couldn't breath.

"Release him" snapped the girl. One of the Captains lowered his hand, which had been outstretched towards Jarh.

…her...free...

So it was true, the Monks of The Red Hand could kill you using only their minds.

"Try it again and Varsh will break both of your legs. Then lets see you run." she giggled. "I've worked a long time to build this order's reputation and I'll not have it ruined by some insignificant cat burglar!
You know, in my fathers day the monks just sat around all day reading?
Imagine that! Imagine how far they've come since then."

"So Garon betrayed us then? He sent us here so that you could kill us, and have your revenge?"

…ussss...

Revenge. It was always about revenge.

"No, no Garon genuinely wanted the staff.
He seemed very surprised when I paid him a visit. He seemed even more surprised when I cut off his head.
We've been watching you, since you left all those years ago. And when I found out you planed to come and see me again, I only thought it fair we gave you a proper welcome. I hardly realised you were here the last time."

…make her pay…

That was the clearest they had been yet, all spoke in unison that time. They'd seemed more real that the girls words.
She was insane, no doubt about that, but why did these voices hate her so much?

"JJJJJAAAAAARRRRHHHHH!" cried a welcome voice.

He looked up across the chamber Ajax and Karl had appeared on one of the upper walkways, they wouldn't be able to get to him form there, but Jarh felt uplifted by the presence of his friends.
They were drenched in gore, Karl looked even more like some hell-spawned daemon of steal and blood. Ajax clung to him for support his shoulders trembling. They'd clearly taking a beating on their way to the archives.

"Kill them. He's the only one I want."

The captains jumped, crossing an impossible distance to land on the far side of Ajax's platform.

"Jarh!" Ajax screamed as the red terrors approached. "Smash the staff, she's bound to it!"

Without hesitation, Jarh flung the staff into the stone walkway. It shattered as if it had been made of glass, tiny black fragments tumbling over the side into the deep chasm bellow.
The stone buckled as the massive energies contained with in the staff were released. The room shook, priceless artefacts and ancient scrolls tumbled to the floor. Some slipped over the sides, lost forever.

Then the archives themselves started to fall, chunks of walkway and roof tumbled, bringing down more with their chaotic descent.

Jarh and the girl fell.

"We have to go Karl!
There's nothing we can do, the sea's taken them!"

Karl didn't move, he just stared into the depths bellow.
The two monks had fled the quaking room already.

"You can't save him! You'll die as well."

Karl looked up, Ajax looked it to his "eyes" two polished sapphire stones.They twinkled as if a fire burned within them.

Then he realised; Karl was already dead.

"Good luck then"

And with that, he was gone.

//

The water was so cold it felt like being stabbed, the ruins of the Archive chamber were still cascading into the water around Jarh. Beneath him the soul-lights gathered.
Whatever their purpose, they illuminated the area around him with the same dead-green light as before.

And then he saw the girl. Just a few meters away from him.

"Father said the staff would keep me safe, protect me. He said he couldn't loose me like he lost my mother. But that was long ago, so long ago.
Nothing can hurt me he said, not even time. But now he's gone and the staff's gone. No one left to protect me. No one."

"Do you have a name?"

"Arkina"

"How long ago was it?"

"Too long."

She didn't even cry out. She must have been ready to die. It must have been hell, trapped as a child forever. No wonder she'd gone insane.

Jarl tossed away his sword, it would forever be tainted now.

So now I wait. Wait for the lights, to lead me through the dark waters. To meet Saaven and answer for all my sins.
Well, he smiled, at least one of the lives I've ended was in mercy.

He closed his eyes and let the light's pull take him.

//

Floating amongst the wreckage,

The Obsidian Staff whispered to the night.

Of lost hopes, of forgotten love of an age now past.

And now, amongst the thousand voices was a new one;

A young girl's voice.

//

Jarl felt something grip his shoulder. Something hard, cold and unfeeling.

Metal.

"Maybe…" he thought as his consciousness slipped away.

He should have died that night. But he didn't.

Some bonds go beyond friendship.

//

Rathgar
04-06-2005, 22:14
And that's your lot. Hope you enjoyed it. Let me know what you think/what I could do to improve :D

Anvils Hammer
04-06-2005, 23:19
you are going to write more...

right....

you cant leave it there

he didnt die, what happens next!

Rathgar
04-06-2005, 23:30
I dunno, do you think it needs more?

I kind of like giving it an unclear ending!

Well he's alive at that point yes, weather the three of them get out of the Citadel alive or not... :D

Grom
04-06-2005, 23:37
I think it's a beautiful ending, which, like so many of the best stories, merely hints at things instead of describing them in mind-numbing detail, and leaves plenty to the imagination. Good work! I look forward eagerly to your next piece - though I'd like it if you could put a little more effort into your proof-reading, and maybe rework the odd clumsy turn of phrase. That'd turn a fine, entertaining (and already well above average) piece, into a truly superb one. Now go and read my story (below) while you think about your next project. ;)

Rathgar
04-06-2005, 23:50
Now go and read my story (below) while you think about your next project. ;)

I have done, its fantastic! You've very, very talented. I didn't post a reply, but I added to your reputation, well deserved I feel! I'd very much like to see more of your writing!

Thanks again for your encouraging words and advice,

Better start cooking up my next story!

Necoho
12-06-2005, 11:40
I'm majorly impressed. That's really good. I think the ending's brilliant...unclear is always good. But I do think you have an obsession with little girls. Better hope that athamas and koraath don't see this or they'll be really disturbed next time we do wfrp. Though they are probably disturbed enough already. Hopefully we'll see some more of your work soon.