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Thread: Stories by Matt (New short story, not fantasy for once)

  1. #1
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Stories by Matt (New short story, not fantasy for once)

    Low industrial fantasy and cross-genre short stories.

    Siren Song, Chapter 1
    SPOILER! :

    Chapter 1: In which Illyana does something stupid and regrets it

    Illyana wanted to scream at the figures passing out of the city gates. She’d hidden from them the night before, hoping at least the girl she thought of as a sister would turn back or at least look for her. She’d suspected they weren’t too fond of her, but needed to see if that was true. She’d doubted it, and she’d been wrong. The girl she loved did nothing. Neither did the young man she looked up to as not a father or a brother, but as a friend. He wasn’t even that to her. She’d loved them, and they didn’t hate her. She’d thought that was a good thing–a step in the right direction. But they were indifferent. To Illyana, that was worse than any form of hate.

    She slammed her fists against the wall on either side of the window, clenching her teeth and wondering why in the world she was holding in her scream. She pounded the wall again and again, harder and harder, hoping it would shatter, hoping the destruction would satisfy her. Her scream wouldn’t come out, but her tears did. In her rage, she didn’t tire until her energy was completely spent and she collapsed. She rested her head against the windowsill and cried.

    Was it something she did? She’d eaten their food, sure. She’d taken up one of their horses and the man previously occupying it had apparently been glad to give it to her. Was it because of her race? Dryads were thieves, stereotypically. They could slip in and out of any wood structure like a sticky-fingered ghost, taking anything they pleased with them in or out. They were assassins, thieves, perverts, rapists–though Illyana would have loved to dispute this point, arguing that all dryads were female and therefore, rape wasn’t truly an option. She could admit that her race was generally made up of shady people, though they were at least better than nymphs and blood angels among the fay, and they were especially better than any subrace of fiend.

    “Who’s up there?” somebody called from the floor below. Illyana looked behind her at the inn bedroom she’d hidden in. She heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, then the knob shaking on the door she’d locked. She heard the innkeeper fumble for his keys and didn’t stay to hear more. She let herself sink through the wood floor and wall, her head emerging on the outside first. She pulled herself out, flipping around in midair and landing on her feet a few meters below her exit point. It was early morning and very few people walked the cobblestone streets of Sigmora. Nobody had seen her leave in the way dryads usually did. She figured if she didn’t use any of her dryad abilities, she may be perceived as a nymph with her dark hair, olive skin, and amber eyes. None of these traits were exclusive to either race, but nymph and dryad ears were similar in length and point. Dryad ears were vertically thinner, but her hair could cover enough that her ears would only betray her age and not her race.

    But she had no wish to be seen as a nymph. She walked through the streets, between buildings, squeezing herself through wood fences and houses if she felt like taking a shortcut somewhere. She walked toward whatever drew her interest, free until a guard or militia member decided to stop her. Even then, she walked directly in front of a few guards just to see how they’d react. None of them spared her more than a scornful glance. She was too young to be a threat to anyone’s safety, they probably thought. Her own perception of their thoughts insulted her, but she decided that it was best not to antagonize anyone. She’d be here for a while. She may as well make a decent impression.

    She wasn’t interested in making an impression right away, and even if she was, she wouldn’t know how. She walked straight through the closed wooden door beside the gate, turning around to see the guard stationed outside rolling his eyes and smiling at her. She liked being smiled at, she decided. She’d always loved seeing people smile, especially if she was the cause.

    There was a forest just east of Sigmora. It was so close that many of its trees’ branches were cut off to make room for guards to walk on top of the white wall surrounding the city. From outside, Sigmora looked smaller than it was inside. Inside, houses were spaced further apart, doors were larger, and streets were wider to make room for angels to walk. Some dwellings were built without doors on the ground, completely inaccessible to humans. But there were no angels in Sigmora. Just one blood angel, responsible for killing them all.

    Illyana met the blood angel as she entered the forest. She was a girl, no older than Illyana. Her wings, rather than the pure white of an angel’s, were dull red, the last three feathers on each wing shining and pointed like blades. Her hair was dark red, like her wings, and her clothes were all variations of red or gray. She sat on a thick branch high above Illyana’s head, turned away from her. Illyana decided to close that gap. She entered the tree and shot up, poking her head out when she reached the blood angel’s branch.

    “Hi,” she said. The girl whipped her head around, red eyes staring Illyana back into the tree. She set the paper and pencil she’d been using before on the branch beside her and lunged at Illyana. The dryad ducked back into the tree and came out the bottom before the blood angel even took flight. She waited beside a tree until her new pursuer was within a meter of her, then sank back into the tree. She pulled out the other side and laughed as the other girl sat against the trunk, clutching her head in both hands.

    “I just wanted to say hi,” she said, walking around to the girl, but keeping one hand pressed against the tree. “Or are blood angels too stupid to answer even that?”

    The girl glared at her and got to her feet, teeth clenched and lips parted, revealing the fangs of a fiend. She thrust her wings out, the last three feathers on each wing screeching like metal on metal as they slid against each other. So they actually were blades.

    “What would you do if you caught me?” Illyana asked. “They call you fay, but you’re just a fiend without horns. Do you eat fay like the rest of them?”

    Illyana retreated into the tree as her new foe twisted and slashed at her with the blades on her wing. She came out on a branch about ten meters above. She continued her insults, glad for someone to take her anger out on. “You probably killed your own family to become what you are, didn’t you! Fiends are born bad, but you chose it on your own!”

    The blood angel shot up. Illyana didn’t have time to fully dive into the tree. Burning pain cut through the back of her bare ankle and interrupted the concentration it took for her to stay in the tree. She fell out of it and smashed against the soft dirt. Instantly, the pain in her ankle flared up again, disabling her only method of escape. She slapped a hand against the tree she’d fallen from and tried to pull herself into it, but her hand didn’t breach the surface. Her racial ability wouldn’t help her at all.

    The blood angel stood over her, one of the bladed feathers clutched tightly in her small, pale hand. She pressed the bladed feather against Illyana’s neck.

    “I can cut your throat, snap your neck, or cut off your head. Which do you prefer?”

    “Don’t kill me,” Illyana said, her eyes squeezed shut and her teeth clenched below her lips. “Please. Please don’t.” She was breathing hard, her chest heaving and her heart pounding inside it. She’d gone from the childish glee of releasing her anger to being terrified for her life in just a moment.

    “Don’t provoke me if you don’t want to die. I’ll just cut your throat and be done with it, all right?”

    Illyana rolled away, screaming something that she thought was a word, but came out as just a scream, not a word in any language she knew. She clutched a tree and tried to get to her feet, but the blood angel had cut something major in her ankle. Maybe a tendon? If she even lived, the injury would be permanent.

    “Do you fay find it so fun to seek me out just to insult me?”

    Illyana turned her head. The girl was walking toward her, blade still drawn. She screamed again and crawled away, fresh tears flowing from her eyes. She was absolutely pathetic. She’d called out one of the most dangerous creatures on the continent without thinking, eager for somebody to take her pain out on, and now the pain was greater.

    “Just say sorry and I won’t kill you.”

    “I’m sorry!” Illyana cried before she had a chance to think. How pathetic. If she was going to insult this thing, she should have been able to get away with it.

    “You are so pathetic,” the girl said, kneeling beside her. Illyana tried to back away, but the girl caught her hair. “Hold on,” she said, her voice way too calm for the situation. She pulled Illyana toward her and looked into her face. “Dryad, of course,” she said. “What’s your name?”

    “Illyana.” She answered fast, terrified of making the blood angel wait.

    “Where are you from?”

    “Dakonia. In the south.”

    “Where are your parents?”

    This was the last thing Illyana expected to be asked, but she answered anyway. “Still there.”

    “Why aren’t you with them?”

    “I ran away over something stupid about a year ago. I don’t know how to get back.”

    The blood angel released her hair, and Illyana scrambled for the safety of a tree. Only there was no safety in it as long as she was in pain.

    “I can’t believe how pathetic you are. You’re still a little girl and yet you act half your age.”

    Illyana nodded. “I know. I’m sorry.”

    “Oh, shut up. I hate killing people in the forest, so I’m letting you live. Now go back home or something. I’m trying to teach myself how to write.”

    Illyana wanted to, but she stayed in place. She pressed her hand against her ankle, but the blood didn’t stop flowing. She’d left a trail of it from the tree she’d fallen from. As the blood angel took flight again, Illyana pushed a leaf against her wound. She couldn’t leave this forest, much less get home in her condition. The blood angel wouldn’t kill her–not because of some moral standard she still held, as blood angels had no moral standards. She hated killing in the forest. Maybe she didn’t want to have a corpse rotting and stinking in her domain, where the guards wouldn’t come to clear it out.

    Whatever the reason, Illyana was alive. She needed to escape the forest and find a place to eat and rest. But that would come tomorrow. She was starting to get woozy and tired, and only after she closed her eyes did she realize she’d just woken up. Terrified, she forced her eyes open and looked down at her ankle. The injury wasn’t deep and it didn’t look horrific or even very painful. But it was both. And she was losing too much blood. She pressed a fresh leaf against it and tied it in place with a long blade of grass, then set off toward Sigmora at a crawl.

    I tried to avoid the stuff I usually hate seeing in fantasy. So no prophecies or chosen ones.

    EDIT: Siren Song is better now. Check the latest page.
    Last edited by Matt; 06-23-2013 at 09:17 PM.

  2. #2
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Forum won't let me post all at once, so: a hundred fantasy writing prompts, part one.
    SPOILER! :
    1. A fantasy in which no animal is the same as on Earth, but nor are they simply replacements with different names and designs.

    2. A theology-focused fantasy in which the characters do logical debate about God and gods. By logical, I mean make all sides logical, not just the one you think is right.

    3. A healing system where healing is possible, but the injury or sickness healed would be imposed on the healer forever. Bonus points: don’t make this one dark and depressing.

    4. A fantasy world without humans. Bonus points if they’re not all furries.

    5. A fantasy in which there are tens of contradicting and intertwining prophecies and no one knows which ones to believe.


    6. A world where every aspect of the environment is different. For example, two blue suns rather than one yellow one, sentient plants, currency-growing trees, trees that grow downward.

    7. A technologically-advanced society living literally on top of a medieval one, and a valid justification for why the medieval one doesn’t shape up and get techy.

    8. The protagonist being a researcher or engineer whose conflict comes from which side of a war or political spectrum to give his creations first.

    9. The protagonist being the world’s god. Making him or her interesting goes without saying.

    10. A guard protagonist. Bonus points if this guard doesn’t end up joining some sort of rebellion and traveling the world in search of a McGuffin to destroy the Evil Overlord.

    11. The Evil Overlord as a protagonist. Bonus points if his actions are justified enough to make him just as “good” as the rebels.

    12. A story in which the protagonist’s parents, siblings, and love interest are all alive and not evil traitors in the end.

    13. A protagonist who is not interested in romance to begin with and is still uninterested in the end.

    14. A magic system subtle and discreet enough that 99% of the world doesn’t believe it exists. Bonus points if it’s not stupidly obvious.

    15. A world made of water, water-faring races, and nothing else.

    16. A musical protagonist whose music is not magical and whose music doesn’t stun everyone into silence or make everyone cry, but is still regarded as talented.

    17. A world with gravity, breathable air, floating debris, races to inhabit it, and nothing else.

    18. A fantasy in the gunpowder age.

    19. The protagonist is a goblin. Bonus points if s/he’s not either the exact stereotype or the exact inversion of the stereotype.

    20. A world in which a disease rendered 90% of the population mentally ill in some way or another.

    21. The protagonist is the only mentally healthy person in the world.

    22. A third-person limited fantasy that never strays from the protagonist’s viewpoint.

    23. The protagonist develops the world’s first bladed weapons. Bonus points if you can figure out a justification for this not to be in the stone age.

    24. A fantasy in which mind-control magic is so prevalent that at any given second, any given person is probably being controlled by someone else.

    25. No magic at all.

    26. A world in which magic was so powerful that it created an apocalypse, and now your protagonist is living in a non sci-fi post apocalypse.

    27. A seafaring fantasy where your protagonist is not a pirate. Bonus points if s/he’s not in the navy, either.

    28. An underwater fantasy where the primary race is an underwater race and not humans in air bubbles. Bonus points if they’re not mermaids or renamed mermaids.

    29. A fantasy where research has advanced differently and computers exist, but not guns or much of anything else.

    30. An astrology-based fantasy where astrology does not just mean star-based magic. Maybe your people have just discovered that their world is round.

    31. Develop an entire new language and writing system, then base at least one society or way of life on the language itself.

    32. A fantasy world that has developed electricity.

    33. A gray versus gray war. No evil overlord. No chosen hero.

    34. Write a story where a chosen hero is supposed to defeat an evil overlord. Then make the hero fail.

    35. Write a scene where the hero holds a formal debate with the evil overlord. Bonus points if the overlord wins without cheating and without relying on the audience being corrupt.

    36. Write a short fantasy that takes place within a single building.

    37. A sky-faring fantasy where there is no such thing as ground.

    38. A magic system where anything written in red ink becomes true. Bonus points if this magic is commonplace and the world isn’t destroyed.

    39. Due to some kind of magic, the hero and evil overlord switch bodies and take each other’s place. Bonus points if you successfully use gray v. gray rather than good v. evil.

    40. In a gray v. gray setup, the protagonist is darker gray than the antagonist.

    41. Write a fantasy comedy that doesn’t rely on English wordplays and puns. Bonus points if it’s actually funny.

    42. Write a scene or scenes where the hero defeats the evil overlord, but the people don’t accept him as the rightful king because he was an absolute jerk during his hero’s journey.

    43. The evil overlord does the intelligent thing and kills the hero as a baby. Now what?

    44. The evil overlord takes the baby hero and his family and brainwashes them all. What happens?

    45. The protagonist is a troll. Bonus points if he’s not the stereotype or the inversion of the stereotype.

    46. A group of races that have certain advantages and disadvantages over each other. Bonus points if the majority of them are not combat-related.

    47. The hero overthrows the evil overlord without talking him into submission or beating him into submission.

    48. Create a world where grass grows over a hundred feet tall within an hour of being planted. Plan societies and races around it.

    49. A magic system that acts like computer programming. Mages write reusable programs and people buy them. Hint: learn at least one programming language in real life for research.

    50. A magic system that works by hooking everyone in the world together like the Internet. Speeds vary by location.


    - - - Updated - - -

    For some reason, I get a 404 error when I try to post the next 50. So here's a link to all of them.

    EDIT: Ooh, that update thing's pretty cool. Didn't know the forum did that.

  3. #3
    One Thousand Member Regantor's Avatar
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    Been meaning to comment here. Sorry, but not much to say on the story in the first post yet. It seems okay, but I haven't really had the time to analyze it in-depth.

    The list, on the other hand, are basically all things that I look for in fantasy. Perticularly non-humans reprosented as alien but balanced individuals, and pure grey moralities. I can only think of a couple of books and graphic novels which use even just one of these notions... The only one that I find a bit trite is 21, perhaps, just because being stuck in a world of crazy people probally would make you yourself insane...

    49 is probally my favorate, just because the idea of having to pre-prepare your magic, having to hack-job a new spell sporadically on the spot, and risking a "world crash" every time you use a magic program seem like really cool underused ideas...

    Also, this is probally completely nerding out, but 6 is technically impossible if you were going scifi, sorry. Blue stars are blue because they lack the heavy metals that form planets... Planets orbiting red dwarfs, on the other hand, will have really cool habitable rings around the middle, because being close enough to retain heat means that one side will be stuck perminantly facing the sun (Just like how you can only ever see one side of our own moon). Hope that gives you a cool new idea or two. :3
    Last edited by Regantor; 09-16-2012 at 03:20 PM.

  4. #4
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Eh, don't worry about the story. As long as there's something useful in here, that's fine with me.

    49 was my absolute favorite of the list. My first draft challenged the readers to get a fantasy with a programming magic system published before I did, but meh. I'll probably do it if no one else does, or maybe a whole new subgenre of techy magic fantasy could arise from it in the best case scenario (well, there's steampunk, which I already like).

    And about the blue star thing, I had no idea. Thanks for that. (Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson, has a red dwarf sun, by the way--and it's not even sci-fi.)

    Oh, and before I forget, here's the follow-up to the story in the first post:

    Siren Song, Chapter 2
    SPOILER! :
    Chapter 2: In which Siren reflects on stuff and tries to make a friend

    Siren Miia was named after one of the few fiend races to never develop a bad reputation, and Siren herself, twelve years old and guilty of genocide, acknowledged the dark humor her name would suggest to anyone who knew it. Every human in Sigmora knew her name: Siren the blood angel; Siren the serial killer; Siren the face of evil; Siren the fay who hated fay.

    Sigmora was made up of idiots. Two years ago, she had slain the entire angel population of the city and enjoyed it, therefore “losing her purity” as the citizens would later call it. She acknowledged that such an action was wrong, especially considering she’d only meant to kill one. Shifting her wings into view and seeing that they had turned dark red, as well as developing fiend-like fangs over the course of several agonizing weeks, had made her fear for her life, her sanity, and even what would happen to her after death.

    She didn’t worry about it much anymore. Killing the angels was an action she greatly regretted, but of the many things she’d absorbed from her parents before turning her back on them, learning from the past and living in the present was one of the strongest. At trial by the now-retired king and his court after her murders, she had suggested her own sentence, as just over half the judges agreed that she shouldn’t die for her crimes–not at her age. She had sentenced herself–and the court had agreed to–a life of serving as a scout and a soldier for the safety of Sigmora. Now, in the wake of the democratic revolution that Siren didn’t even try to understand, the court’s decision held.

    The little dryad girl, who Siren now realized wasn’t as young as she thought, had done two things for her. First, she had taught Siren not to fly straight at whatever she wanted to kill, and second, she’d made her think of her parents again. She and the dryad were the same in that respect–almost. Illyana had left, she said, over something stupid. Siren had been disgusted with her parents for leaving her on her own for five years, then being surprised when they came back to find that their little girl had turned into the very creature they told her would torture her after death if she was bad in life. A blood angel, a dark angel, or a fallen angel. Could she help it, though? Could she tell her mind not to take high, almost sexual pleasure in the pain and death of others?

    In the end, Siren’s parents were the ones who left their daughter after three months of trying to reform her. They were there one day, promising to work with her the next, and were gone in the morning. With them went Siren’s last chance of living in a family like the rest of the children in the world. Illyana still had that chance, and for that reason alone, though she told the dryad otherwise, she let her live. She had no intention of killing the girl anymore, though she had certainly intended to until she mentioned her parents. She often heard the people of Sigmora chatting about how heartless she was, and was glad to know that she wasn’t.

    As she thought of these things, she wrote them down in extremely rough Angelic. Her command of the fay language, verbally, was flawless, but even she could see that her reading and writing of it were abysmal. She was a psychotic murderer to the people, and she had no wish to be perceived that way. Therefore, she took it upon herself to educate herself to be perceived as a more intelligent being and to explain the actions they only saw as the work of a murderer. She killed bad people, but nobody within Sigmora’s walls, regardless of how bad they were. She only killed people she knew to be a threat to the city’s safety. Her kills within the past two years had been mostly fiends, excluding giants and most goblins. Dramen were killed on the spot, as they were merciless predators most fay and humans could only hope to kill from a distance.

    Dryads, like the one crawling below her now, weren’t generally a problem. There weren’t many of them, Siren realized. Illyana was the first she’d seen in a long time. Generally, non-angel fay mostly occupied the western region of the continent because, Siren assumed, the sounds were more pleasant. She’d been bothered to no end by small rodents and dogs and cats in the streets while humans casually walked by as if they couldn’t hear a thing. Likewise, she wasn’t bothered by the broken, off-key bell in the town hall that the humans hated so much. She only realized how annoying it was when she flew over it as it rang. Why had Illyana made her way here, she wondered, when fay so often talked about “the pull of the west.” If there truly was a force playing to the senses of the fay that drew them west, Siren didn’t feel it. Apparently, neither did the little urchin ten meters below.

    “Dryad!” she called. Illyana looked up briefly and crawled faster. Siren sighed and dropped to the ground, buffeting the dryad with wind from her wings as she touched down. “Illyana,” she said. “Let me heal your ankle.”

    Illyana stopped crawling and looked over her shoulder. “Only angels can heal,” she said.

    “I know,” said Siren. “I’ve never tried healing before, though.”

    These were the last words she imagined Illyana wanted to hear, confirmed when the dryad resumed her frantic crawl.

    “Oh, just relax,” said Siren, easily catching up and blocking Illyana’s progress with her wings in front and beside her, her body behind. “You’ll probably die if I don’t heal you. You don’t want that. Do you?”

    She’d exaggerated, but Illyana was trapped and stayed quietly in place. She didn’t even look behind her as Siren unwrapped her injury and pointed her fingers at it. And then what? Siren had no idea how to heal. Her parents had done it so easily, many years ago, but they at least looked like they’d been concentrating on the act. She slowly poured inergy into the wound, hoping it would produce some result on the dryad’s dark skin. It didn’t. Illyana cried out and Siren jerked her hands away.

    “Did I do it wrong?” she asked.

    “As far as I can tell, you’re just dumping inergy on me.” Illyana turned around and sat on her bottom, elevating her ankle with her other shin. “Do you have any idea how to heal?”

    Siren blinked and said nothing. Illyana sighed. “Why am I not scared of you right now?”

    “Because I don’t want to kill you?” Siren guessed, wondering where she was going with the topic.

    “The way you ‘heal,’ I’d never know,” Illyana said. “Even if blood angels can heal, you’re doing it wrong.”

    “Can you heal?” Siren asked her.

    “Actually, yes,” said Illyana. “I just need to concentrate, and I can’t concentrate in pain. You know how it is with inergy. Unless you can’t handle that either?”

    Siren aimed her fingers and Illyana’s chest and shoved her to her back. “Liar,” she said. “Only angels can heal. Now let me try again.”

    Siren failed again, this time twisting Illyana’s foot far enough that she screamed in pain. Siren let it go immediately, and Illyana started backing away, still whimpering in pain and fear.

    “Sorry,” said Siren. “I can fly you to a clinic if you want.”

    Illyana looked up toward Sigmora, still a great distance away, even further considering her only method of travel was a crawl with a severed tendon in her ankle.

    “All right.”

    Siren grabbed Illyana under the arms and rose to her feet. Without a word, she bent her knees and raised her wings. She launched herself and the injured dryad into the air with the joint effort of her limbs. Once airborne, she pumped her wings hard, trying to stay aloft with the added deadweight. It wasn’t too hard. She aimed for the clinic near Sigmora’s southern gates and flew toward it. She flew slowly. This would be a long trip over a short distance.
    Last edited by Matt; 09-28-2012 at 09:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Your Friendly Ban Hammer-er Rio's Avatar
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    Posting #51-61:

    SPOILER! :
    51. A religion that worships technology.

    52. Write at least ten physically distinct sentient races.

    53. Your protagonist invents ice cream.

    54. A world where gravity flips every night. Bonus points if you can explain it. Extra bonus points if you can explain it without infodumping.

    55. A world in which there are two sentient races, one evolved from a single cell (where that cell came from is up to you), on created by God or gods.

    56. A world where the sentient race(s) petition their god(s) to create certain things. And the gods listen. Catch: the god(s) will only create things. Not destroy them. Not change them.

    57. A world consisting of islands floating in the sky. Bonus points if the people there don't have wings, but have other methods with which to travel from island to island.

    58. A world in which the magnetic poles shift frequently. Bonus points if the world's magic system is based off magnetism.

    59. A magic system that only works half the time and starts and stops in unpredictable patterns.

    60. Technically a sci-fi, but future sentient races have created a world where fantasy conditions exist. Dragons, magic, evil overlords, and everything. Pick and choose, though.

    61. A protagonist without arms or legs. Bonus points if magic doesn't allow him or her to get nifty replacements.

  6. #6
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Trying #62-100:
    SPOILER! :
    63. A fantasy where wars are settled by Olympic-style competitions rather than battle.

    64. A world where people respawn after they die from anything but old age or a disease of your choice. Imagine how much more reckless people would be.

    65. A fantasy world advanced enough to parallel Earth in 2012.

    66. A magic system that could actually work in real life if one thing was changed. You'll really have to study this one.

    67. A magic system that only allows mages to change their appearance and nothing else.

    69. A sentient race without mouths. Bonus points if said race is not telepathic.

    70. A religion or race that considers speaking profane and thinks mouths are only there for eating. Hint: study sign language.

    71. A math-based magic system.

    72. A chemistry-based magic system. That makes it just chemistry, doesn't it? I know. Run with it.

    73. Your protagonist doesn't get stronger with every battle, but weaker as his or her injuries pile up.

    74. A magic system based on emotions, where an angry mob could set fire to a stick by looking at it or something like that. Catch: no one person could change much of anything.

    75. A world shattered by earthquakes and a sentient race adapted to it. People would be really good at jumping, I think.

    76. A fantasy where the world actually is flat, or at least a cube instead of a sphere. Bonus points if you can come up with a feasible reason for it.

    77. A world where the primary race is mini-sized and insects are an actual difficult battle. Cats, dogs, horses, and elephants would be monstrous.

    78. A world without magic suddenly gets magic.

    79. A world with magic suddenly loses its magic.

    80. The protagonist is an engineer. Yes, I'm still giving fantasy prompts. And yes, engineers should still exist in fantasy. They're just people who use science to solve problems.

    81. Death makes people into zombies of sorts who age backward, and once they're infants again, they become human again and start aging normally.

    82. Every fifty years, the magic system changes.

    83. Every fifty years, a new sentient race is created.

    84. A fantasy in which there's a fantasy equivalent of K-12 education. And college, of course.

    85. A fantasy where falcons or birds can't be used for long-distance communications.

    86. A fantasy where an underground (literally) communication network exists. If you don't know where to start, try Minecraft.

    87. Invent a new non-sentient race. Make it do something completely off the wall as its primary function (i.e. Minecraft's creepers exploding), and then justify it.

    88. A world where structures are built out of a material not found on Earth.

    89. Structures on land are built using water.

    90. A world of all men or all women, with no apparent means of reproduction. Bonus points if they can save themselves without blending into sci-fi or using deus ex machina.

    91. A society where people don't have names. Bonus points if you don't take the obvious route of making it a pseudo-communist individualism-hating thing.

    92. A world where raw ideas are actually worth something--where the people generally act on their ideas, and where ideas can literally be stolen from people's heads.

    93. A world where the god or gods made a mistake in their creation. What that mistake is and what it does, I'll leave up to you.

    94. Write about the very beginning of your fantasy world. Bonus points if you don't infodump. Extra bonus points if you don't just re-write Genesis.

    95. Fish can swim through land. Sharks can, too.

    96. Trees don't fall down. They uproot and disappear into the sky.

    97. Your protagonist has some sort of mental disorder that fantasy people have no idea how to cope with.

    98. People are walking bombs, and when their hearts stop, they explode.

    99. Everyone in the world operates with a different magic system.

    100. Go ahead and write 100 of your own ideas/prompts. This will help you get your creative gears going, as you'll inevitably think in some depth about each item.


    Siren Song, Chapter 3
    SPOILER! :
    Chapter 3: In which Illyana visits the doctor

    Illyana's ankle had stopped bleeding by the time her carrier dropped her off in front of Sigmora's medical clinic. The blood angel's wings were too big to even fit through the door, so Illyana hopped in on her own, grasping the wall for support. She jerked her hand away from the wall when she felt a sliver stab into the skin under her fingernail. She let out a small yelp and fell to the ground.

    "Who's there?" someone asked. A young man--no, a boy by fay standards--emerged from a part of the clinic Illyana couldn't see from her spot on the floor. He was about ten years older than her, black-haired, light-skinned, and human.

    "Down here," said Illyana. The boy knelt beside her. He looked over his shoulder, then back at Illyana.

    "If I pick you up, I won't be hurting anything vital, will I?"

    "I think my ankle is dead."

    The young doctor lifted Illyana's leg by the calf and looked at the back of her ankle. His lips pressed tightly together as he looked closer.

    "What kind of maniac would do this to a little girl?" he said under his breath. Illyana knew the question wasn't directed at her, nor was she probably intended to hear it, but she answered anyway.

    "A blood angel."

    The doctor raised an eyebrow. "Siren, of course." With a forced smile, he added, "If people ask why you're on crutches, you can tell them a feather cut your calcaneal tendon."

    "I'd rather tell them I survived a fight with a blood angel. Crutches?"

    The doctor shrugged. "That would be my diagnosis. I'm an apprentice here, though. I'll have the real doctor look at this."

    He placed his arms under her knees and shoulders and picked her up. He rested her on a wood table covered in a few cheap blankets. He took a roll of what looked like toilet paper and tore off a few sheets. He lifted his patient's foot and placed the sheets under her injury. Then he walked through a door in the back of the room and disappeared.

    "Siren?" Illyana said to herself. She'd never heard of anyone being named after a race, much less a fiend race, regardless of the sirens' good reputation. Maybe it was a northern thing. Or maybe just a northern angel thing. Illyana didn't know Siren's past, but she knew all blood angels were angels at one point, and all angels but the very first few had parents. Had Siren abandoned her parents over something stupid like Illyana had? Based on her race, anything Siren did wrong was no small deal. Blood angels, by definition, enjoyed killing. It was more likely that her parents abandoned her. Or maybe she killed them.

    The young doctor returned with an older doctor, this one in his fifties with almost no hair. "A dryad?" he said, glancing at his apprentice. "I thought Siren killed all of them."

    "She tried," said the apprentice. "Look at her ankle."

    The doctor lifted Illyana's foot by the calf, as his apprentice had. "How old are you, Dryad?"

    "Twelve."

    "We'll wrap it and give you some morphine. If you're lucky, this will be healed when you're twenty-five."

    "Twenty-five?" Illyana repeated. "That's way too long!"

    "You cut a major tendon, Dryad. You live three hundred years, so no doubt it'll heal before you're dead, but it'll never be the same again."

    That stupid blood angel. Illyana would go the rest of her life crippled because of Siren's temper. Or was it Illyana's fault? Yes. It was. Illyana shook her head. Of course it wasn't. She wanted to hate Siren for the injury, not herself. As she thought that, she realized just how right the blood angel was. She was a little girl who acted half her age.

    "No?" the doctor said.

    "Nothing," said Illyana. Then she thought of something. "Actually, I'm a healer. I can speed up the healing."

    "Right," the doctor said. "A dryad and a healer."

    "I'm not lying!" Illyana protested. "I just can't heal in pain."

    "Honestly," said the apprentice. "It does sound like you just made that up."

    Why did nobody believe her? Was she just saying it at the wrong time? Yes, only angels could heal--usually. But every fay, fiend, and human on the continent was born with one unique gift, and Illyana's was healing. She wasn't the only non-angelic healer on the continent.

    "I'll prove it," she said. "Give me the morphine."

    The doctor left the room and returned with the painkiller. "If you're telling the truth," he said, "you may be one of the most valuable people on the continent. What with all the angels leaving."

    Illyana took the drug. "Angels are leaving?" she asked. "Why?"

    "If the Seekers are right," said the apprentice. "There's a hidden city that was built for the angels if they ever needed refuge. And now they need refuge because people hate them because two of them suggested democracy."

    "The whole war is ridiculous," the doctor said. "The only thing that really matters is whether we get democracy or monarchy, and the governor--or king--pays us either way."

    As the morphine began to take effect, Illyana's senses dulled, and with them, her pain. Finally. She pulled her legs in and looked at her ankle. The blood had dried by now and the tendon was sliced almost all the way through. It hung on by no more than a centimeter of whatever tendons were made of. The cut parts were stretched out, threatening to snap what remained.

    "If that snaps, you'll never walk again," said the doctor. "Be careful with it."

    Illyana remembered Siren's attempted healing and wondered how it hadn't broken then. She pointed her fingers at the injury and let her inergy flow. She needed to speed up the healing process of the tendon and the skin around it. She'd lost a lot of blood, but there was nothing she could do to replace that. She focused on the tendon first, and even through the morphine, her ankle began to throb in pain. It was dull enough that she could still heal, but it would get worse. The doctor and his apprentice watched in silence as the tendon slowly mended itself. With it, her pain increased. After about a minute, her inergy stopped flowing. The pain was nowhere near as bad as it had been before she took the morphine, but it was just bad enough that she couldn't hold her concentration. Her tendon wasn't even half healed.

    "So you can heal," said the doctor. "Why don't you stick around Sigmora? I'll give you some crutches and if you want, you can work here when your ankle heals."

    "Sure," said Illyana. A few seconds later, she went dizzy from a combination of the pain and morphine. She was asleep within the minute.
    Last edited by Matt; 09-28-2012 at 09:43 PM.

  7. #7
    Your Friendly Ban Hammer-er Rio's Avatar
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    Btw, that's quite an interest list you made! I didn't get a chance to read them all but it sure does get the mind going. :>

  8. #8
    One Thousand Member Matt's Avatar
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    Siren Song, Chapter 4:
    SPOILER! :
    Chapter 4: In which Siren talks to Illyana and fights monsters

    Siren had learned her lesson about judging people prematurely two years ago. Everybody, regardless of age, sex, race, or occupation, was many times deeper than she first assumed. Some people, she would have preferred not to learn more than their first impression suggested. Even a serial killer had standards. But the interactions had saved her life.

    Illyana was like most of the people she'd talked with: annoying to no end at first, and easy to empathize with after mere minutes. As she'd expected, a dryad was no different from any other race.

    She landed in front of Sigmora's clinic and pulled her wings around her body, leaning against the  wall beside the door. She'd made friends before. Why did she naturally return to Illyana? She was probably twelve or thirteen, one or two years younger than Siren, and missed her parents. Was that alone enough? Illyana probably didn't think of her as a friend. She didn't know the extent of the damage she'd done to the dryad's ankle, but it was a terrible first impression. Then again, the very first impression was probably one of Siren sitting in a tree and writing very sloppily, if she'd seen the text at all.

    She'd been gone for a long time, acting as a messenger--one of the many jobs laid on her in the absence of angels or falcons. Was Illyana still here? Probably. With her ankle the way it was, she wouldn't be going anywhere for a few weeks, if not more. Siren knew very little about healing injuries, but she knew what a tendon was, and she knew she'd cut halfway through one. Thinking about it, her own ankle hurt. She reached down and felt the thick tube-like thing on the back of her ankle. Then she imagined it being cut. She had a lot of apologizing to do.

    The door opened a moment later, and Illyana's face stuck out. Their eyes met. Illyana looked away first. They both started to speak at once.

    "Go ahead," said Siren.

    "I'm sorry," said Illyana, edging out of the doorway. Her ankle was wrapped in cloth and held straight by a shaft of wood that stuck out the top of the wrappings. She was on crutches, her clothes had been replaced by the clinic's typical garment that looked like a pillowcase with sleeves, and her hair was neatly combed. Like many citizens, she wore a sunhat.

    "Sorry?"

    Illyana nodded, avoiding Siren's eyes. "I knew what you were, and that was why I provoked you. I was mad at someone else and took it out on you."

    "I owe you an apology, too," said Siren. "I tried to kill you."

    "Well, you're a blood angel."

    "That's no excuse. You're a dryad and you didn't steal anything--did you? From the clinic?"

    "No. I got a job, though. It pays."

    "Jobs pay. So you really can heal?"

    "I already told you I could. By the way, where did you go? I can hear your wing beats from a kilometer away, and you haven't been around for a week."

    "So you assume I fly everywhere?"

    "Those things are massive," said Illyana, pointing at Siren's wings. "Walking doesn't look all that convenient for you. I stick to trees myself. So I imagine you stick to the air."

    Siren motioned toward the southwest. "I was delivering a letter."

    "Oh."

    Silence followed. Siren quickly resumed the conversation.

    "So you've been around during the night? What did you think of the wind?"

    "About that," said Illyana. "I have questions. And I can't stand around like this. Can we sit down or something?"

    Siren slid down the wall and sat on the grass. Illyana rolled her eyes.

    "You're so informal."

    Illyana sat against the wall as well, close enough for comfortable conversation, far enough away to indicate that it wasn't a casual, friendly conversation. As soon as she opened her mouth to speak, a horn sounded, long and low-pitched. Siren's entire body tensed. The horn rose an octave, and Siren jumped forward, running a few steps before rising into the air. Twice a month, on a fairly regular schedule, she heard that horn, and she was usually closer than this to the gates where the rippers would converge.

    Even Siren was slightly afraid of the rippers, despite the skill that came with her race. She arrived at the south gate as guards propped planks and beams against it. She dove quickly. A quick thrust of her wings kept her from breaking her legs on impact as she stood and faced the rippers. The creatures' backs were turned toward her, and there were five of them. They slashed at the gate with huge, heavy claws. Calming her nerves, Siren reached out to the sides and pulled her bladed feathers free from each wing, six in total. She held them in front of her and carefully angled them at the creatures. Two for the one in the middle. One for each of the others.

    She pushed the blades forward. All six hit their marks, and all six rippers died.

    All six turned around and charged.

    Siren waited a few seconds, then jumped and beat wind against the creatures as she rose into the air. She flew away from Sigmora and the rippers chased her, red blades sticking out of their backs, blue blood slowly dripping from fatal wounds. She flew slowly, letting them follow her. Once they were dead, they could follow her for about ten minutes before finally realizing they were dead. In those ten minutes, she was in as much danger of being caught and dismantled as when they were alive.

    She flew for ten minutes, and then the rippers fell all at once and didn't move again.

    She landed and quickly collected her blades. She'd dump them in the forest later, with the rest of them. Why she kept them, she wasn't quite sure, but it felt right. For now, she backed away from the rippers. They were dead, of course, but though she was credited with being the most dangerous creature on the continent, she knew differently. She was horrified of death. It barely seemed like an inconvenience to rippers, and there always seemed to be more of them.

    On the flight back to Sigmora, Siren realized that she'd been trembling. She'd only been injured by the creatures once, two years ago, and had fought hundreds since. Why was she so scared of them? It was probably a variety of things, but greatest of all, she thought, was their lack of concern for their own lives. All they did was kill and eat. Kill and eat. Kill and eat. If she cut their heads off, their bodies would chase her and tear her apart without realizing they had no way to eat her. And then they'd die and collapse and crush whatever life was left out of her.

    She may be a monster, but even monsters feared bigger monsters.


    I don't like this chapter much. I guess that's why I'm posting here. I need help.

    EDIT: After sleeping on it for a day and coming back without tunnel vision, here's what I notice:
    1. The sudden shift from talking to fighting just doesn't work.
    2. The violence feels forced and shouldn't be there.
    3. Siren's viewpoint is boring for this chapter and Illyana should have it instead unless Siren does something interesting.
    4. Siren and Illyana are too nice to each other.
    Last edited by Matt; 09-28-2012 at 09:47 PM.

  9. #9
    You know, I'm going to read the story and probably give critiques here.

  10. #10
    One Thousand Member Regantor's Avatar
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    Right. Finally getting around to this like I said in the PM. Sorry it took so long.

    Also, excuse me if some of the things I put forward are a little speculative, but I think that simply telling you what to write wouldn't be perticularly helpful in the long run. I also think that a reader's impressions of the story are very important, so there may be shades of that, too.

    -Chapter 1-

    SPOILER! :
    Illyana wanted to scream at the figures passing out of the city gates. She’d hidden from them the night before, hoping at least the girl she thought of as a sister would turn back or at least look for her. She’d suspected they weren’t too fond of her, but needed to see if that was true. She’d doubted it, and she’d been wrong. The girl she loved did nothing. Neither did the young man she looked up to as not a father or a brother, but as a friend. He wasn’t even that to her. She’d loved them, and they didn’t hate her. She’d thought that was a good thing–a step in the right direction. But they were indifferent. To Illyana, that was worse than any form of hate.
    I like the first sentence, it certainly brings an air of tension to the proceedings; But I think the double negatives like "She'd doubted it, and she'd been wrong." come across as perhaps a little sluggish and confusing to read in comparision.

    Actually giving people names, even if they are never heard again, could also add depth.

    All dryads were female and therefore, rape wasn’t truly an option.
    Erm... Male rape is actually a real-world thing, so, yeah. This might come across as more than a little insensitive...

    I'm also not so sure that using the name blood angels is such a good idea since it's used in quite a popular lore series, but it's up to you if you really want to change it or not.

    “Who’s up there?” somebody called from the floor below. Illyana looked behind her at the inn bedroom she’d hidden in. She heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, then the knob shaking on the door she’d locked. She heard the innkeeper fumble for his keys and didn’t stay to hear more. She let herself sink through the wood floor and wall, her head emerging on the outside first. She pulled herself out, flipping around in midair and landing on her feet a few meters below her exit point. It was early morning and very few people walked the cobblestone streets of Sigmora. Nobody had seen her leave in the way dryads usually did. She figured if she didn’t use any of her dryad abilities, she may be perceived as a nymph with her dark hair, olive skin, and amber eyes. None of these traits were exclusive to either race, but nymph and dryad ears were similar in length and point. Dryad ears were vertically thinner, but her hair could cover enough that her ears would only betray her age and not her race.
    Quite a good descriptive paragraph; The only thing I found a little lacking and confusing was exactly how she moved through the wood. Earlier on you entailed that it was similar to how a ghost moves, but does that mean she simply "flies" or "floats" through wooden objects? Or is it more similar to liquid, and she has to "swim" through it? I'm mostly confused because gravity can apparently pull her downwards into it, yet she retains enough control to apparently move diagonally. More description, please... Later on it's described more like she is instantly warping from place to place, which makes it extra confusing. More in-depth visualisations needed!

    She’d be here for a while. She may as well make a decent impression.

    She wasn’t interested in making an impression right away, and even if she was, she wouldn’t know how.
    I can appreciate a naturally stealthy race at odds with a boisterous personality, but this bit kinda just makes her motives a bit too confusing... Why exactly does she want people to notice her? Just out of spite? Humour? Ego?

    Illyana met the blood angel as she entered the forest. She was a girl, no older than Illyana. Her wings, rather than the pure white of an angel’s, were dull red, the last three feathers on each wing shining and pointed like blades. Her hair was dark red, like her wings, and her clothes were all variations of red or gray.
    Another quite nice description here, but I feel like a better description of her clothes here would have gone a long way to telling us quite how civilized the blood angels acted (Even if just around one another.) The insuing fight is also where the 'warping' I was talking about earlier takes place.

    She pressed a fresh leaf against it and tied it in place with a long blade of grass, then set off toward Sigmora at a crawl.
    This part just kinda comes across as weird because... Well, how come she didn't just use her clothes? How can she even see that so well if she has shoes on? Does she have any clothes on?

    :Chapter 1 Overall:

    I think the pacing and characterisations in this chapter are pretty decent, but it perhaps lacks a little depth in the visualisation department. We know what the various races look like, but you don't really describe exactly what Illyana's face or personal features are like. It would have also helped a great deal in letting us know how important Siren was ahead of time. Even the buildings and trees could do with more visualisation. Don't be afraid to be uber specific. The setting and the interactions do come across as rather original, too, that said, so please don't take this entire reveiw as one big downer.

    -Chapter 2-

    SPOILER! :
    She had sentenced herself–and the court had agreed to–a life of serving as a scout and a soldier for the safety of Sigmora.
    Erm, isn't this kind of rediculously, incredibly lienient? If this was a human king, and the human mistrust of angels and feykind is a officially state-sponsored thing, that should really, really be brought up here. Because even then, I figure they would not be inclined to listen to a confirmed murderer's pleas, esspecially not if they were also a fey themselves. A young age doesn't even begin to cover why she is apparently walking around, free, no strings attached. I certainly don't think she would ever shake that stigma off around the local populace. >_>

    The only ways I can really think of rectifying this would be if either; A) The King was completely corrupt and morally absent himself, and was intent on weaponising her in future for his own use. B) The angel killings were part of the revolution itself, and she only murdered a few amoungst the chaos, alongside other racist individuals. I kinda prefer this version since it is much less mary sue-ish...

    “Dryad!” she called. Illyana looked up briefly and crawled faster. Siren sighed and dropped to the ground, buffeting the dryad with wind from her wings as she touched down. “Illyana,” she said. “Let me heal your ankle.”
    Kind of weird that the characterization paragraph before this is really quite good and entails her differances from human psycholigy well, but then this sentience makes for a sizeable whip-lash. If blood angels have no morals at all, why is she suddenly helping Illyana? She basically behaved like a complete spiteful monster up to this point (which is actually fine, as character choices go), but then shows sympathy for apparently no reason. Did her recollections make her relate or sympathise with the girl? If so, this should be directly mentioned, even if Siren herself is not sure why she is picking up such emmotions.

    People do alot of things without understanding why they do them, but that does not change the fact that there is an underlying reason they may not realise or be willing to admit to themselves.

    Siren blinked and said nothing. Illyana sighed. “Why am I not scared of you right now?”
    This sentence makes me think that there may have been an underlying magical or subconcious connection between the two of them, but in either case, it could probally be made more obvious that neither of them is acting quite as they normally would.

    If there isn't a added reason why they are suddenly being so nice, on the other hand... Well, Illyana should really be trying much, much harder to get away. Or, at the very least, refusing to talk to Siren until the woman has eared her trust. Paranoia and mistrust should really, really be a thing when you are around somebody who just tried to kill you for simply saying hello...

    :Chapter 2 Overall:

    The pacing and characterisation are pretty good in the first half, but I really think that the second half needs a re-write to be respectable, to be honest. You spend alot of time making Siren out to be a conflicted and fearsome character, but then go back on it quite quickly in a way that requires major explination to remain explicable IMO...

    -Chapter 3-

    SPOILER! :
    It hung on by no more than a centimeter of whatever tendons were made of.
    The fact that real world medical knowlage is being applied in such a way is a breath of fresh air, but that does make this sentence in perticular a little jarring. Like I said, I don't think you should be afraid to be specific.

    Tendons are made of collagen, also, just in case you didn't know...

    :Chapter 3 Overall:

    I think this chapter is easily the strongest. It also puts concrete descriptions of how the healing powers work, which helps. The doctors quite likeable if a little simple, and lacking visual descriptions in a similar note to how I mentioned before. I know they aren't supposed to be perticularly important characters, but it would be nice to know how seedy or trustworthy they appeared. Again, describing their clothes would go a long way to alieviating this, at the very least.


    Chapter 4 I'll leave off for now, mostly because I'm pretty tired and Smartry already had a pretty in-depth look at it. If you still feel like it needs a proper picking apart, I can perform one later at your request, through.

    Hope this was helpful.
    Last edited by Regantor; 10-03-2012 at 03:25 PM.

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