ELFQUEST
FORUM ARCHIVE     ABOUT EQ     READ ONLINE     SHOP    
ABOUT     READ     SHOP    

March 2009 Grab-Bag Writings & Art

krwordgazer

Here are the elements for March:

Bright-metal (steel)
A secret
Doing the impossible
A new life of some kind (new creature, new person, new pet, any kind of new living thing)

All works must be related to Elfquest, whether canon-based, original character, alternate universe, or whatever. Writings must contain all the above elements. Art can either contain all the elements, or illustrate one of the writings.

RedheadEmber

I know this is really short... but... at least it's not cryptic!

[b:6d1329c4ef]Dark Secret[/b:6d1329c4ef]

Something hidden
Buried in the soil
Long ago
It brought forth
An evil unheard of
One boy
Must stand alone
To purge this evil pool
What others thought impossible
He did
This young, brave youth
Like the sharpest Bright-metal
His thoughts brought light
Down into darkness
So that the tribe may strive
And new life flow again

Embala

Short - Yes ... Cryptic - Not at all ... Well Done - As I Expected :D

and more - It's familiar! The inspiration of the Bearclaw series seems to last Grin
It's both honor and duty for me now to give this series a last installmet.

If it's not clear already - I Love it!

RedheadEmber

Thanks! I'll be waiting your collage eagerly! :D

stargazer

That's great Ember! :D

RedheadEmber

Thanks! :D

Sharptalon

[quote:25bd0fd594="Tymber"]

“A Tale Of Two Soul Mates”
_______________________

It was the best of times, it was the worse of times.

...

[b:25bd0fd594]NOTE: [/b:25bd0fd594] It's the magic of writing, when sometimes the story writes itself. [/quote:25bd0fd594]

Sometimes musicians who improvise what they're playing turn to their favorites to steal a few notes for inspiration.

I wonder if Dickens plays a similar role with your writing? Wink

faeriegirl

[quote:e58b24c957="Tymber"][quote:e58b24c957="Redhead Ember"]I know this is really short... but... at least it's not cryptic!

[b:e58b24c957]Dark Secret[/b:e58b24c957]

Something hidden
Buried in the soil
Long ago
It brought forth
[/quote:e58b24c957]

Madcoil? See, like you I always think that Madcoil is an ancient evil - but he came about just before [url=http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/WR/DisplayWR.html?page=137][b:e58b24c957]Bearclaw's demise.[/b:e58b24c957][/url][/quote:e58b24c957]
but the magic that caused Madcoil was ancient... took the form of Madcoil... so in a way Madcoil is ancient evil... right?

RedheadEmber

[quote:199b71c23d="Tymber"][quote:199b71c23d="Redhead Ember"]I know this is really short... but... at least it's not cryptic!

[b:199b71c23d]Dark Secret[/b:199b71c23d]

Something hidden
Buried in the soil
Long ago
It brought forth
[/quote:199b71c23d]

Madcoil? See, like you I always think that Madcoil is an ancient evil - but he came about just before [url=http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/WR/DisplayWR.html?page=137][b:199b71c23d]Bearclaw's demise.[/b:199b71c23d][/url][/quote:199b71c23d]

Well... considering that SATS took place more than 10,000 years after Bearclaw's dead then the magic which created madcoil was ancient at any rate...

Embala

Wonderful story, Tymber - your tribe feels almost familiar already. and what a great idea - recognizing twins ... from another tribe ... pureblooded elves, maybe? Hope you can manage all the entanglement that could follow out of this.

This story has only one major problem ... [size=7:f3b1e1d3a0]it gave me ideas for illustration(s)[/size:f3b1e1d3a0] :twisted: NO - you should not wait for it.

Doing this will be an awful mess of work and I've too less time right now ... tho I'm afraid this will haunt me. Wink YES - you can hope ... [size=7:f3b1e1d3a0]if you'd like ...[/size:f3b1e1d3a0]

Tenderfoot

Hey, here I am! The waiting is over (for those who actually waited for this part), and I'm very satisfied with how this part turned out.

Oh, how I would've loved to have this as homework. Just think about it, being able to write all the time... luckily I've got a nice teacher who wants us to write a story each week. :P She helps me.

But now, on to the story.






[size=18:e4374a3167][b:e4374a3167]Strongbow and Moonshade ”“ The Iron Burden ”“ Part 4[/b:e4374a3167][/size:e4374a3167]



Darkness. Only darkness. A suffocating silence had settled over the castle, almost like the carpets that hung on the wall. There were no sounds to be heard. No steps, no voices, no moves, not even a single breath. Everything seemed as dead as the lifeless castle was. No persons, neither humans nor trolls.

Only a dark shadow in an even darker corner.

Then a sound, metal clinging against metal. A pause. The same sound. A pause, and the sound could be heard again. This repeated for a while, nothing could be heard, and in the next moment the sound appeared again. You could spot movements. Slow moves. Monotonous moves. Moves, declaring that the shadow didn’t care. Dark clouds moved, allowed the pale shine from the moons to lit up the room, just enough to be able to see. The silhouette of young Bearclaw appeared, an empty look on his face. His gaze was directed towards the blade in his hand, but he didn’t see it as he sharpened his sword. He stared into nothing. Nothing but darkness. The same darkness that had filled his heart.

The sound of metal against metal turned to hissing, buzzing. As everything in the room clouded, every sound ceased. Bearclaw was surrounded by darkness, silence, suffocating coldness. He was innermost in nothing and everything, felt like diving into something black and cold. The only thing that kept him from drowning in that dark pool, was his thoughts.

Thoughts, clouded. By what? Anger, lack of sleep”¦ tears.

How many days had passed since his sister’s disappearance? [i:e4374a3167]Too many.[/i:e4374a3167]

How many weeks, months? [i:e4374a3167]Lost the count.[/i:e4374a3167]

How long since he had heard her voice, seen her smile? [i:e4374a3167]Too long.[/i:e4374a3167]

How long since she gave any sign of life? [i:e4374a3167]”¦[/i:e4374a3167]

How long since his father said those horrible words?

Bearclaw didn’t know, and he hated to admit it, but he really didn’t care either. Days and nights passed, all of them alike. Since the moment he understood she was gone, he had slept for just a few nights. His thoughts were all about Moonshade, his sister. Where was she? Was she alright? Had something happened to her? Was she cold? Did she have enough food? Concerned as he was, without any answer, he felt guilt. He was the older brother, the protector.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


[i:e4374a3167]He could still remember the day she had been born, how he had stood at the side of her cradle and stared down at the little bundle with eyes wide. His parents had let him hold her, the newborn princess. It showed great trust, and the three-year-old took the task seriously. When he sat in their parents’ bed, holding his sister, he had felt so proud. She was so small and so cute, lots of dark hair on the top of her little head that seemed to be too big for the rest of her body. And she was so warm and soft. So small, so innocent. There and then he had decided that he would always be one step ahead of her, always keep an eye out for her, always make sure she was safe. He had even given her a promise.

He had tightened his grip on the little bundle, bent down towards her face and smiled.

“I will protect you,” he had whispered.[/i:e4374a3167]


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


He promised her, himself, that he would always protect her. And he had failed.

Bearclaw slowly blinked, his movements grew both faster and stronger. Feeling anger dwell inside his already darkened body, he let out a small growl. The one who really had failed was their father! King Mantricker, more king than a father. He always took care of the country, not his own children. He was always together with the sages and councilors, not his family. He always talked about good behavior, pride and justice, not that it was ok to do mistakes, disappointment and”¦ love.

Love. When was the last time his father had used that word? Or something similar? He knew he had heard it once, but when? Using his already weakened soul arms, he reached for the thoughts at the bottom of the pond, buried, almost forgotten. While searching for that special word, he came across other memories from his early childhood, when he and Moonshade were too small to understand the meaning of hate and unfairness. Their world consisted of nothing but laughter, games and family. And their mother had been a part of that world, from the very moment he was conceived. The same was with his sister.

Their mother, Thornflower, had died at a young age, tore away from them while they were still children. The prince couldn’t have been more than nine white-cold, the princess barely six. Mantricker had been in their life much more than their mother, but he had never been a part of it. Even if the children had just had a mother for a few years, she had been more into them. She had been with them, played with them and taken care of them. She had taught them songs and hymns, dances and good manners. She had loved them”¦

Yes, Thornflower loved them. She had told them over and over that she loved them. Their mother had used the word, not their father. And that’s why his sister was gone now.

Bearclaw tightened his jaw, wrinkling his forehead. His father was the one to blame, who couldn’t care less than he already did. From the time he had read Moonshade’s letter, no one had mentioned his sister. No one dared, and they couldn’t be blamed. If someone uttered a word about the princess, his father would shoot the person hateful glares. And if looks could kill, this someone would die immediately.

No one was allowed to speak of his sister, not even mention her by name. Mantricker had decided it, and as the king he was, no one dared to go against him. Moonshade did, once, and that would never be forgotten. Even if no one talked about it, they would still remember it. And Bearclaw knew that if someone were to do something similar, he or she would end up dead, executed by and order from Mantricker.

Bearclaw’s movements grew even stronger as the anger towards his father threatened to drag him under. Mantricker was too proud to admit that this was his fault. He probably meant that the king never was wrong. But he was. He was all wrong, and everyone knew it. Even the king himself! The prince missed his sister, needed to talk about her to ease the pain. But his father would never allow it. To him, the servants, the kingdom”¦ princess Moonshade Mantrickersdaughter was dead.

And just because of their father, Moonshade was lost forever. Feeling the anger slowly turn over to hate, Bearclaw used all his strength on one last movement in sharpening his sword. But lost in the dark pool of thoughts, he didn’t see which way his hand went.

Only the burning pain that shot through his arm could tell.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


“Aargh!” the prince screamed and grabbed his bleeding hand.

His scream echoed in the whole castle, could have waken the dead. The sword barely hit the floor before the door slammed open and a dark shadow appeared. The prince didn’t recognize the silhouette of his father, he was too busy trying to stop the blood. He didn’t hear the running steps, didn’t even notice that he wasn’t alone in the room. Not before the king himself stood right next to him, did he spot him.

“Bearclaw!” the king said with a worried voice.
“Are you hurt?”

Bearclaw clenched his teeth, not wanting to show weakness in front of his father. He wanted to scream at him, tell him how he really felt, what he thought about him. He wanted to kill! But the pain in his hand took control over the situation, and he nodded.

“Didn’t pay attention,” he spat.

Mantricker sent his son a worried look, then bent down in front of him and grabbed his hand. Even if it was dark, he could see clearly where the sword had cut through the skin. The wound wasn't very deep, not deadly, but deep enough to be dangerous if they didn't do anything with it. The first thought that ran through the king’s head was to get the castle doctor. His son was the heir to the throne, he had to make sure that he didn’t fall ill. But before he even moved, he stopped. Bearclaw could be very restless sometimes, but he had skills with the sword and had never been wounded in battle. How come he got a wound this deep just now?

The king held his son’s hand in his own, looking at the wound. It wasn’t that serious, actually, it could wait a while. And it was just fine that he bled. That way he wouldn’t get an infection. But what Mantricker wondered about now, was how he got the wound. Just one look at the sword on the ground was enough, but how did he manage to cut himself so badly? A pain in his chest suddenly made him jerk and the king blinked.

“Bearclaw,” he said slowly.
“Did you just try to”¦?”

Bearclaw looked at his father with an asking glare, then his eyes widened.

“No!” he cried out.
“No, no! By the High Ones, no!”

Just the thought of ending his own life made him scared. No matter how awful he felt right now, suicide had never reached his mind. He would be remembered as a coward. Ending your life was one of the greatest sins of all, and Bearclaw would never do something like that! While looking away, he felt his father run his fingers along the wound.

“I was just sharpening my sword,” he said through clenched teeth.

Mantricker shot him a skeptic glare and raised one of his eyebrows.

“With what, your own hands?” he said sarcastically.

Raised as the prince he was, the only right thing to do was to lower his head and apologize, not uttering one more word. But Bearclaw wasn’t son of Mantricker for nothing, he had inherited more than just his looks. The king may be stubborn, but so was the prince. It was a game that could be played by two.

With a quick move, Bearclaw pulled his hand out of his father’s and turned away, crossing his arms over his chest.

“No!” he said through clenched teeth.

Mantricker looked at him with an angry glare, then shook his head, trying to remain calm. It would only grow worse if they started a fight.

“Bearclaw”¦ are you mad”¦ about something?” he said.

Bearclaw still didn’t look at him, not even when he answered.

“It’s nothing!” he said.
“I’m not angry!”

It was obvious that he was sulking, and if there was one thing that Mantricker didn’t like, it was when someone didn’t tell him what was going on.

“You call that not being mad!?” he said as he placed his hands at his hips.

“I’m not mad!” Bearclaw cried.

“You’re fuming all over the place!” Mantricker said and raised his arms.

Then Bearclaw suddenly turned to him again, his eyes glowing with anger.

“That’s right! I [i:e4374a3167]am[/i:e4374a3167] mad!” he cried.
“Because you and the others won’t talk with me about Moonshade at all! I’m [i:e4374a3167]extremely[/i:e4374a3167] mad!”

At the mentioning of his daughter, Mantricker’s face grew dark, his eyes unfriendly. If there was just one rule he wanted everyone to follow, it was the last one. Not mention Moonshade. And Bearclaw, his own son, had broken that rule just now.

“I thought I gave an order!” he growled.

“And I broke it!” Bearclaw replied.
“It’s a stupid order, and I won’t follow it anymore! I’m sure everyone agrees!”

Mantricker had to force himself not to hit this brassy child in front of him.

“You are insane,” he growled.

“No, I’m not as stupid as certain others,” Bearclaw said with a harsh voice.
“But I do have a heart, and I actually know what love is about!”

Mantricker flinched and blinked, surprised by his son’s burst. Bearclaw had always been a noisy child, but he had had respect for the king. This was the total opposite of respect. And the end of his patience. With a wrinkled forehead, the king rose up to a standing position and looked down at the prince.

“How dare you talk like that!” he called.
“Don’t you know who you’re talking to?”

“Obviously you don’t!” Bearclaw screamed back at him.

This startled Mantricker, and for the first time since he became a king, he didn’t answer. He had always been the one to end a council, conversation or a quarrel. The king always had the last word. But right now, he didn’t know what to say. His son had stood up when he screamed, his whole body glowing with anger. First he didn’t even understand what Bearclaw talked about, but thinking about it, it slowly began to slide into his mind.

“Bearclaw”¦” he started as he placed his hand at his son’s shoulder, but Bearclaw quickly shook it off, sending his father an angry glare.

“You’re accusing [i:e4374a3167]me[/i:e4374a3167] for not knowing who I’m speaking to,” he said.
“But what about you?”

Mantricker looked at him, blinking. The king had never seen the prince more angry than now. No, angry was not the right word”¦ furious. That’s it, the prince was furious. Or he was really upset. Thinking about it, Mantricker had never seen his son trouble with so many emotions at the same time. In front of the king, Bearclaw had always been either happy, bold or sulking. Never sad. He had only cried once, when Thornflower died. But he hadn’t seen it, only his red eyes after being gone for half a day. Seeing his son in this way”¦ he felt helpless.

“Bearclaw”¦” he started, but was again cut off.

“[i:e4374a3167]You’re[/i:e4374a3167] the one who don’t know!” Bearclaw cried, pointing at him.
“I’m your son, and you’re my father!”

Then the tears came.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


Even if he didn’t want to, Bearclaw had to accept that he, for the first time since Thornflower died, cried. His body felt so unbelievable heavy, he sank into the chair he was sitting on, gripping his head and burying his face in his hands. Everything he had learned about not showing weakness was forgotten, memories quickly faded. He couldn’t fight his father, not now. He couldn’t even fight his own tears, how was he supposed to win a fight full of emotions?

If only his father could understand.

He didn’t hear the steps coming closer, didn’t see them coming. He didn’t see the look on his father’s face, didn’t hear his sighs. But he did feel his hand at his back as the king knelt beside his crying son. Mantricker watched Bearclaw with soft eyes, for the first time not accusing him for being weak. He just kept his hand at his shaking back, became a part of the sobs that his son let out. His own hand trembled, but that went unnoticed by Bearclaw, whose body felt like an earth quake.

The only thing that could be heard was the sobs from Bearclaw. Father and son had started as silhouettes in the dark, but as the time passed, the room was lit up by the rising sun. Mantricker could now see his son better, but he already knew what he would look like. He had felt him for so long that he didn’t need the light to tell him. Then Bearclaw lifted his head, looking at his father with a sorrowful look.

“I know who I’m talking to,” he sobbed.
“But obviously you don’t.”

Mantricker kept his mouth shut, choosing to listen to his son this time. Something in his heart told him that it was right to let someone else than him speak now. So he remained silent, listening to Bearclaw’s words.

“You are the king, but you’re more than that,” he sobbed.
“You’re my father.”

Then he broke again, tears rolling down his already soaked face.

“I didn’t talk to the king,” he said, still sobbing.
“I talked to my father, the one I thought loved me and cared!”

He sniffed and blinked, drying his tears.

“You don’t even know that!”

Then he covered his face again, sobbing and crying even more. Mantricker remained silent for a while, letting the words sink in. Then, with a sigh, he lowered his head, talking into Bearclaw’s ear.

“I may not have been the father you’ve wanted, but I do love you,” he whispered.
“I really do, and I’ve always did since the time you were born.”

The sobs disappeared, the body stopped trembling. Bearclaw looked up at him through tears, but his skeptical glare told Mantricker that he didn’t believe him. Not knowing what to do, he just continued speaking, hoping that he would gain his son’s trust again.

“A king must protect his country, even if he likes it or not. It’s his duty. And sadly, sometimes it happens at the cost of those he cares about. In my case, it’s you.”

He understood the look in Bearclaw’s eyes, knew what he wanted to say and who he wanted to talk about. But Mantricker wasn’t ready for it, not yet. Therefore, he spoke again before Bearclaw could utter a word, hoping that [i:e4374a3167]that[/i:e4374a3167] name wouldn’t come from his son’s lips in the nearest future.

“We were born to this, Bearclaw, destined to rule the country. We can’t always get what we want, and we have to learn that life is difficult sometimes.”

Bearclaw’s eyes filled with tears again, and before Mantricker could stop himself, his hand moved up to his son’s cheek and dried some of them.

“Sometimes life is unfair, and we have to fight our way through it. Our job is to be fair to others, even if they’re not fair to us.”

Bearclaw sobbed again, tears threatening to drown father and son.

“Do you know what your mother used to say?” he said.
“What you want others to do to you, you shall do to them.”

Bearclaw sent him a confused look, as if he didn’t quite understand the meaning of the words. Mantricker smiled carefully, stroking his cheek.

“You can do whatever you want, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.”

That broke the young prince and he flung his arms around the neck of his father, crying even more than when his mother died.

“I miss her so much!” he sobbed.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


They didn’t know how long Bearclaw had cried, clinging to his father. A servant had been there, cleaned Bearclaw up and bandaged his hand. But now the sun lit up the room and the blood on Bearclaw’s hands had dried, caked on his arms and clothes. It must have been a while. King Mantricker now stood by the window, hands at his back, his gaze turned to his son, who stood right behind him. Now the time was ready. Both of them were ready for what would come. Questions”¦ and answers.

“Why did you suspect Strongbow in the first place?” Bearclaw asked.

They hadn’t really gotten an answer when he first was sentenced to death, no one had told neither him nor Moonshade about it.

“Strongbow was a kid when his father died. He was about Woodhue’s age, a little older, I think.”

“Yes, and?”

Mantricker was silent for a while, choosing his words carefully. It was more difficult to tell the truth than he thought.

“He and his father were alone when they left. His father was dead when they were found, alone.”

“And?” [i:e4374a3167]What has that to do with the case?[/i:e4374a3167]

Thornflower had been right when she said that Bearclaw would be a noisy child. Never able to be quiet, always wanting answers. And now that he that the possibility, he would ask as many questions as he could. Yes, Mantricker knew his son.

“Years later it seems like one of them did the actions.”

“But I thought they were attacked by outlaws?”

There it was again. A question. But he had promised that he would give answers, the true answers. And he wouldn’t let Bearclaw down again. He had been cruel enough as it was.

“Those who found them said that the ground was covered in blood and there were footprints there. Small footprints”¦ that belonged to a child.”

Bearclaw blinked, realizing the truth.

“And you thought it was Strongbow.”

“Aye.”

Silence. Mantricker raised his eyebrows when Bearclaw didn’t come with another answer, surprised. He had thought that he almost wouldn’t be able to catch his breath before a new question appeared. He smiled. Maybe Bearclaw had matured during this night and their talk?

“But his father has been dead for almost two eights. Why did you accuse him first now?”

No, he was still as before. Mantricker rolled his eyes. Then grabbed his head, groaning. He hadn’t slept for a while either, actually he hadn’t been able to close his eyes since Moonshade disappeared.

“The one who saw the footprints hasn’t told anyone about it until now”, he mumbled.

Bearclaw’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open, as if he didn’t know whether to believe it or not.

“Why did he keep such a secret?” he asked slowly.

“No one knows,” Mantricker replied.
“He was a relative to Owl’s family, and Owl himself held the candle when he died. That’s when he told about the footprints. He thought that if he revealed the secret, his time in the purgatory would be shorter.”

Bearclaw looked down for a few second with a concentrated look on his face. Mantricker couldn’t help it, he just had to smile.

[i:e4374a3167]That’s right, son. Use the head you’ve got.[/i:e4374a3167]

“Why haven’t anyone tried to solve this before?” he asked.

Mantricker sighed, turning half away from the prince.

“Oh, we have, son,” he said with a low voice.
“Strongbow’s father was just as silent as his son, but he had a lot of friends. When he died, no one ever gave up on finding his killers. Especially Treestump and Joyleaf’s father.”

Silence. Mantricker turned again, wondering what caught the boy’s attention now, only to find his son with a red face. The prince turned red at the mentioning of his friend. She and her brother were staying at the castle for a few days, and Bearclaw blushed every time someone mentioned her. Mantricker understood, and he found it quite amusing.

“You like her a lot, don’t you?” he said, trying to hide the smile that crossed his face.
Bearclaw didn’t answer. He looked down at the floor, his arms hanging right down. As if he was embarrassed. Then he gave a quick nod. Mantricker smiled again, then turned to the window.
.
“Then go ahead. Ask for her hand.”

He could almost hear Bearclaw lift his head and his gasp, feeling the shocked glare he shot him. And he swore that if neither of them had said anything, his eyes would have rolled out of his head.

“What!?” Bearclaw cried.
“Are you serious?”

“Of course I’m serious,” Mantricker said.
“I don’t play with things like this.”

Bearclaw began to stammer and babble, gesturing wildly with his hands, not knowing what to say, what to do or how to do anything at all.

“But I’m the heir to the throne! I have to marry a princess!”

“Says who?”

Bearclaw opened his mouth to answer, but left it open in mute befuddlement, dumbstruck. Somehow, his father was right. Every prince married a princess and vice versa, it was “The Way”. Everyone just did it. But no one had ever said that this was how it was meant to be. Who had actually decided that it had to be like this? With a skeptical glare, Bearclaw squinted at the back of his father.

“Why do you let me choose by myself?” he said slowly.

Mantricker’s gaze was directed towards the sky, following the birds.

“Love is tender,” he said.
“You can’t force someone to like you and love has to be returned. You can’t destroy love, either.”

Then he stopped, and Bearclaw swore that he lowered his head, just a little bit.

“I made a mistake and had to pay the price. I don’t want that to happen again.”

He didn’t have to say anymore. Bearclaw already knew that he was talking about Moonshade, his sister. And [i:e4374a3167]his[/i:e4374a3167] daughter. So he didn’t say anything. No one, especially not the king, had mentioned her since the day she ran away. The fact that the king said something like this, was almost as unbelievable as what he said just moments ago.

He had never thought that any of them would happen, ever.

Bearclaw was silent for a while, turning the words over and over in his head, not believing what he had just heard. Was it really true? Did he really mean what he said? Was everything true? While the boy was thinking, Mantricker stared out of the window. He could expect it any moment now, he wouldn’t be surprised. Three”¦ two”¦ one”¦

Then the prince suddenly turned and bolted through the door, leaving the king behind. He could hear the running steps fade away, a crashing sound and a scream, the apologizing voice of his son, then silence again. Mantricker smiled and chuckled, knowing where his son was going. Just one look outside the window was enough to spot him.

[i:e4374a3167]He’s fast. Didn’t waste any time.[/i:e4374a3167]

If he only could be just as eager when it came to his duties!

There were horses and riders, and he recognized Longbranch, Brownberry, Treestump and his sister. Joyleaf was about to get down from her horse when Bearclaw came running, helping her down. Then he grabbed her hands, and in the next moment swung her around, everyone around them laughing.

Yes, Mantricker knew what had happened and what the answer had been.

And he felt happy about it.


!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!##!!


Darkness, lightened up by the pale shine from the moons, had settled over the tiny room. The only thing that could be heard was breathing, low and slow. The only things you could see was a table, a few chairs and a bed, dark shadows in the latter. And Moonshade was happy with this, there she lay in the bed, feeling Strongbow’s strong arms around her. She smiled.

It was a great sin to sleep with someone outside marriage, her father had told her that many times. But he wouldn’t be ashamed about that.

When she first ran away, they had ridden many days without resting, until they reached an old church far away from their home. There they had met a helpful and nice priest, who was more than willingly to grant their greatest wish.

They were now married. Strongbow and Moonshade, husband and wife. Not stable boy and princess. No, she had abandoned all that when she left, knowing all too well how she disappointed her family”¦ especially Bearclaw. She should have felt sorry for him. He was her older brother and the only one who understood her. But she didn’t feel anything at all, just happiness and a swelling proud.

A cloud slowly moved past the moons, and both of them sighed happily. The stars were shining even brighter this night, but some of them were even prettier. Three just underneath the moons. No, not two, but three. Three sparkling stars, reflecting themselves.

Strongbow smiled at Moonshade, then moved the blanket away, uncovering the tiny bundle in their arms. The little face shone like the smallest half filled moon, and the father smiled proudly at their daughter, stroking her forehead.

“Our little Crescent!”

RedheadEmber

[color=green:1a62c1428d]Absolutely [i:1a62c1428d]cute!!![/i:1a62c1428d] ending! [u:1a62c1428d]Crescent!!![/u:1a62c1428d][/color:1a62c1428d]

Embala

Like your tale very much, Tenderfoot! Hope little Crescent will have a luckier fate here - as expected from a good historical Wink

And it had a happy end too - at least for Bearclaw and Joyleaf :D


Don't like so much that I was right ... part 5, part 6, part ... :twisted:

Who's the villian? If you are not so mean to take an absolute stranger "out of the head" and not so obvious to choose winnowill - I've one (maybe two) suspects. Waiting for a conclusion ...

Nightsea

Ah, another twin recognition. I let my what-if-daughter
of Winnowill + Voll recognize a pair of Go-Backs:
[url]http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=374649#374649[/url] (that's page 4 of the saga...I was up to page 12 before
the hack, but now am back down to 6).

One picky comment, [b:326c282355]Tymber[/b:326c282355]...
that line "Oh that's not good" seemed like
a modern phrase that is a massive understatement
for being lost in the snow with a wounded healer.

I liked the good character description of your blonde,
spear-using, green-eyed Skyshade. We get not only
physical details but a bit of personality too.

As for the poem this month, I like the reference
to Sunstream's cleaning of the bad pool of magic.
It was an act worthy of a new tribe name and also
this little ode of yours, [b:326c282355]Redhead Ember[/b:326c282355]!

[b:326c282355]Tenderfoot's[/b:326c282355] royal saga was perhaps a bit
drawn out this time, but still evoked dark castle
chambers and medieval mores. The Cresent fans
will be abuzz for sure waiting for the next installment!

I'll eventually get around to doing things for both Feb.
and March grab-bags, I believe.

Eventually,
--Nightsea

Tenderfoot

[quote:4e4c7f0dde="Redhead Ember"][color=green:4e4c7f0dde]Absolutely [i:4e4c7f0dde]cute!!![/i:4e4c7f0dde] ending! [u:4e4c7f0dde]Crescent!!![/u:4e4c7f0dde][/color:4e4c7f0dde][/quote:4e4c7f0dde]

Thanks, [b:4e4c7f0dde]Redhead[/b:4e4c7f0dde]! I figured out that Crescent would be the perfect end for this part.


[quote:4e4c7f0dde="Embala"]Like your tale very much, Tenderfoot! Hope little Crescent will have a luckier fate here - as expected from a good historical

And it had a happy end too - at least for Bearclaw and Joyleaf [/quote:4e4c7f0dde]

Thankies, [b:4e4c7f0dde]Embala[/b:4e4c7f0dde]! Oh yeah, I can promise you that Crescent is going to be a lucky girl. But i can't spoil too much. And as for Bearclaw and Joyleaf, they are meant to be together. It's [b:4e4c7f0dde]The Way[/b:4e4c7f0dde], not even the king can stop it.


[quote:4e4c7f0dde="Embala"]Don't like so much that I was right ... part 5, part 6, part ... :twisted: [/quote:4e4c7f0dde]

Want me to tell something? I'm going to put that couple aside now for a little while. The Iron Burden isn't done yet, but there's other things that's going to happen in the meanwhile. Now, let Strongbow and Moonshade have some peace with their newborn daughter. They've been in the limelight since December!

[quote:4e4c7f0dde="Embala"]Who's the villian? If you are not so mean to take an absolute stranger "out of the head" and not so obvious to choose winnowill - I've one (maybe two) suspects. Waiting for a conclusion ...[/quote:4e4c7f0dde]

I'm not so stupid that I'd use Winnowill for this. Too obvious, like you said. And I'm not smart enough to come up with a stranger. Everything will be solved later, but until then... who killed Strongbow's father?

Wonder who's your suspects... Wink


[quote:4e4c7f0dde="Nightsea"][b:4e4c7f0dde]Tenderfoot's[/b:4e4c7f0dde] royal saga was perhaps a bit
drawn out this time, but still evoked dark castle
chambers and medieval mores. The Cresent fans
will be abuzz for sure waiting for the next installment! [/quote:4e4c7f0dde]

[img:4e4c7f0dde]http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn88/Green_Joy/animesweat.gif[/img:4e4c7f0dde] Well, what can I say? I love writing, it's my favourite subject in school. Besides, it's Elfquest. Can you blame me?

No, kidding aside, I wanted to give Mantricker and Bearclaw a "father-son" moment. Don't know if I made it since I'm not able to think like a boy (I'm a girl)...

Crescent is a matter of course, I couldn't leave her out of the story.

Embala

Take the time you need, Tenderfoot. It's for Elfwest, I know!
I'll not die for curiosity (not really) ... and not of old age in nearer future Wink

My suspicion isn't so extraordinary - only one suspect who's lending itself ... only wonder about the possible motive whether there is a complice.

NO! I definitely don't want to make you giving away something.

Nightsea

http://www.elfquest.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=384777#384777
Tada (two birds, one bunch of keystrokes!),
--Nightsea

PS: To be clear, that link goes to my Vytha story thread,
but I'm also intending for it to be this month's contribution.

krwordgazer

I promise I'll read everyone else's contributions as quickly as possible-- but I haven't been able to do a grab-bag since October, so I wanted to put this in while I can:

MASTER SMITH’S MOMENT


Elements:

Bright-metal
A secret
Doing the impossible
A new life


The red fires of the forge threw the shadows of the cavern into stark relief. Darkness filled the deep places where the fire could not reach, and chased itself across the rocky ceiling as the flames rose and fell.

Muscular arms gleamed with heat and sweat as Two-Edge, Master Smith, pounded at the red-glowing blade on the anvil before him. For moons now he had been focused on the task before him-- the making of the perfect sword. Perfect in balance, perfect in strength, perfect in the singing sharpness of its razor edge. . .

It was impossible. Two-Edge knew it was. No sword could reach the level of perfection he wanted. He knew, even as he worked, that when the task was done to the best of his ability, he would still be disappointed with it. It didn't matter. He would lay this sword aside when it was done and start over. And the next sword would perhaps be even better than this one was going to be-- if it didn't break during the forging. And then he'd lay that one aside, and try again.

It was like the rhymes. He made rhymes because their order and pacing comforted him, occupied his mind and held back the pain that hovered, waiting for any unguarded moment, to claim him as its own again. So, too, did the ringing of the hammer, the roaring of the flames, the fatigue in his arms at the end of each endless day. They comforted and calmed the terrible fires that flickered in the depths of his being. At the forge, he was as close to peace as he had ever known.

Two-Edge pulled the hot bright-metal off the anvil and plunged it into the water that sat waiting. Hissing steam rose around him, and he set the cooled sword to one side. Enough for now. Reaching up to pull a cloth off a hook on the wall, he rubbed his face, then removed his thick, studded gloves. He stirred the coals apart, then pulled a metal cover over them, plunging the room into near-darkness. Two-Edge didn't mind the darkness. He moved to a nearby table and popped into his mouth some of the delicacies he'd stolen from the Gliders' kitchens not long ago. He chewed, thinking.

"Mother mine, Mother mine,
In your secret rooms so fine,
Now I think it's the right time
For me to learn-- what's on your mind?"

The rhyme pleased him, and he chuckled a little as he stumped out of the cavern and down one of the long hallways which led to one of his spyholes. It didn't do to leave Winnowill to herself too long, or she'd get ahead of him in the game. He'd watch her as he always did, revealing himself only when he chose to-- if he chose to. His secret spyholes gave him power he'd never thought he could have, over the ice-dark mistress of Blue Mountain.

Two-Edge peered through his spyhole into the room where Winnowill took her baths. Two human females were there, wiping down the large, shell-like tub as they chatted quietly together. There was no one else in the room. He found another spyhole and looked into her bedroom. No one. He found the place where he could look into the passageway where the snake-pit was located. The fine latticework of shaped stone that covered the walls made the entire area look like a cage; in addition to the snakepit, there were smaller cages in the corners that could be used to house the creatures Tyldak brought her. Winnowill loved to test her shaping skills on small animals. Sometimes Two-Edge watched her; sometimes he even commented on her work from his hiding place., trying to see if he could make her react in annoyance or anger. She seldom gave him the pleasure.

As he looked down now, he could hear tiny squeaks coming from one of the cages. His gut twisted. He didn't mind watching Winnowill shape things-- but things in cages filled him with a mixture of fear, rage and disgust. Images of the cage that had once held him pressed at the corners of his mind, and he shook them angrily away.

The chamber was silent. The Master Smith decided Winnowill must be elsewhere in the Mountain-- with Lord Voll, perhaps, or in the chamber of the Egg. Curiosity about the squeaking noises from the little cage filled him, and he found himself pushing on a little lever hidden in the wall of the tunnel. As he did so, a small door opened, and Two-Edge swung himself down into the chamber.

The snakes were quiet. Some of them had two tails, or odd bumps where Winnowill had attempted to make them grow legs. She was having trouble making things grow limbs which were not meant to have them. Two-Edge smirked at the snakes. His mother, powerful as she was, still had her limitations. He turned away from the pit and moved closer to the cage where the squeaking had come from.

Curled inside was a female treewee-- and she had recently given birth. Four tiny little treewees clung to her belly, suckling hungrily. The mother treewee stared up at the half-troll with terror in her eyes, but she did not move. She still retained her normal shape, Two-Edge saw. Whatever Winnowill was planning to do to her and the babies, she had not begun yet.

The Master Smith felt something stir deep within him-- something deeper than memory. There had been a time when he had been nurtured, fed as those babies were being fed. There had been a time when his mother had been good to him. He had been too young, then, to retain anything of it now but a longing and a sadness. He wished this treewee and her young were safe in a tree-nest in the woods, not here. Not in this cage.

With a sudden, gasping sob, Two-Edge leaped across the room and back into his tunnel. He rushed along it in the dark, hardly heeding where he was going-- till he was back at his forge. The coals were still glowing softly around the edges of the metal cover he had placed over them.

Two-Edge skirted the firepit and reached for one of his hammers. This one should do the job. He turned to race back down the tunnel-- and turned back, grabbed the thick cloth he had wiped his face on earlier, and then turned again and ran back to his little door that opened into the room with the cages.

Two-Edge hopped back down into the room and approached the treewee cage, lifting his hammer. "This is going to scare you, little ones," he growled. "But you'll be glad I got curious-- and Mother dear, she will be furious!" The rhyme made him feel better. Grinning, he raised the hammer over his head and brought it crashing down on the stone bars. Human voices in the next room cried out, startled-- but the Master Smith had already wrapped the heavy cloth around the mother treewee and her babies, and with the bundle tucked under one arm and his hammer under the other, was back in the tunnel-- shutting the door-- then racing back up the tunnel with his hammer and bundle clasped tight in his arms.

Back at the forge, Two-Edge leaned his hammer against the wall and set down the bundle. Tiny baby squeaks came through it, but the mother wasn't making a sound. Too frightened, perhaps, Two-Edge thought, lifting an edge of the cloth and peeking under it. Yes, she was only frightened, not injured. Two-Edge pulled a short cloak over his bare shoulders, picked up the bundle again, and hurried out of the cavern into the outside world.

He bounded lightly down the mountain,, holding the bundle as gently as he could. The huts of the Hoan G'Tay Sho lay before him. He skirted them, passed their stone altar, and headed into the forest.

A hollow tree was what he needed. Two-Edge glanced around him, examining the trees as he passed. At last he found what he was looking for. A hole high in a tree. With the bundle under one arm, he climbed up, poked his head in to see if the den was occupied, and finding a couple of squirrels there, he shooed them away. They ran off, chittering angrily, but Two-Edge felt no sympathy for them. He tenderly laid his bundle in the center of the little den and gently pulled the cloth away. Treewees were much bigger than squirrels-- the former occupants would not try to take their den back, and since they had no babies yet, they could find a new one.

The mother treewee looked up at him with her round, dark eyes. The little ones, squeaking hungrily, scrabbled back to her belly to feed once more. Two-Edge pulled his head back out of the hole and backed a little way down the tree. He waited till he heard the mother chirping reassuringly to her young. Then with a smile of satisfaction, he turned to go back up the mountain.

He had won a round in the endless games with his mother. She would find the broken cage, see that the treewees were missing-- and she would know that he had done it. And the thought of the mother treewee suckling her babies in peace, of the babies growing up naturally, made him feel better than he'd felt in a long time. It wasn't true peace; it wasn't sanity-- but here and now, in the shadow of Blue Mountain, it was enough.

Two-Edge hummed a little tune as he headed back to his forge.

THE END.

stargazer

That was wonderful KR! Nice to see a positive side of Two Edge!

krwordgazer

Thanks, Stargazer! Glad you liked it! :D

I have read the others now.

Redhead, that was great! It's about Suntop confronting the dark pool, isn't it?

Tymber, that was so intense! The snowbear attack, and getting lost, and the new elves! And Recognizing identical twins! Cool twist! :D

Tenderfoot, I loved the interaction between Bearclaw and Mantricker! You really showed their emotions well. The only suggestion I would have is that at the point where you have a time pause-- "They didn't know how long Bearclaw had cried, clinging to his father" -- that you go ahead and mention a servant being called in after that, to clean Bearclaw up and bandage his hand. Because then when he runs off to meet Joyleaf, grabs her hands and she's laughing, as a reader I'm wondering why she isn't reacting to the blood all over him, and why he's able to grab her hands with an open wound on one of his.

But wow! Two years have gone by and Chitter has been born! Wow! I'm looking forward to what I hope is a homecoming, "Mantricker behold your grandson" reconciliation! :D

Nightsea

I like treewees very much and am glad at the outcome of
your story!

One tiny detail I think you've mistaken is that
Two-Edge is not green like other Trolls. Perhaps just delete that
one word? You've already got another adjective that is accurate
in that line, and the rest is well done as usual.

Plus, I particularly liked the rhymes you made!
:D
--Nightsea

RedheadEmber

Quote:
krwordgazer

Redhead, that was great! It's about Suntop confronting the dark pool, isn't it?



It sure is! :D

Did I actually manage to make a poem with no doubt as to what it's about?

Nightsea

I had guessed the same before...
[quote:469b8c14c0]As for the poem this month, I like the reference
to Sunstream's cleaning of the bad pool of magic.
It was an act worthy of a new tribe name and also
this little ode of yours, Redhead Ember![/quote:469b8c14c0]
I think you made it clear who was narrating and
about what event (did you mean to, or was it
just not in you to be cryptic this month)?
;)
--Nightsea

faeriegirl

Quote:
Redhead Ember

Quote:
krwordgazer

Redhead, that was great! It's about Suntop confronting the dark pool, isn't it?



It sure is! :D

Did I actually manage to make a poem with no doubt as to what it's about?


It could have been about Madcoil&Cutter, maybe... for the rest: yea, think so!

krwordgazer

Quote:
Nightsea

I like treewees very much and am glad at the outcome of
your story!

One tiny detail I think you've mistaken is that
Two-Edge is not green like other Trolls. Perhaps just delete that
one word? You've already got another adjective that is accurate
in that line, and the rest is well done as usual.

Plus, I particularly liked the rhymes you made!
:D
--Nightsea



I'm glad you liked it, Nightsea! :D

However, while Two-Edge does not appear to be as green as Picknose's group of trolls (Guttlekraw's northern trolls being more gray), Two-Edge definitely appears green in a great many of the pictures of him, especially in the new Archive versions:

http://www.elfquest.com/gallery/OnlineComics/OQ/OQ18/DisplayOQ18.html?page=29

Tenderfoot

Quote:
krwordgazer

Tenderfoot, I loved the interaction between Bearclaw and Mantricker! You really showed their emotions well. The only suggestion I would have is that at the point where you have a time pause-- "They didn't know how long Bearclaw had cried, clinging to his father" -- that you go ahead and mention a servant being called in after that, to clean Bearclaw up and bandage his hand. Because then when he runs off to meet Joyleaf, grabs her hands and she's laughing, as a reader I'm wondering why she isn't reacting to the blood all over him, and why he's able to grab her hands with an open wound on one of his.




*bows* Why, thank you, Mrs. KR!

About Bearclaw and his hand, it wasn't really that bad. He just cut himself, that's all. I remember that I managed to cut myself with a pocket knife when I was about four years old. It wasn't very deep, but I did bleed a bit. I seem to recall that I just used my T-shirt to wipe off the blood. Bearclaw's wound was only supposed to be a minor scratch, but when thinking about it, I was in a bad mood when I wrote it, so it's not strange if I overdid it. :oops:

It wasn't very much blood either (from Bearclaw's wound), but I guess I overdid the description this time too. :oops:


Quote:
krwordgazer

But wow! Two years have gone by and Chitter has been born! Wow! I'm looking forward to what I hope is a homecoming, "Mantricker behold your grandson" reconciliation! :D



Did I write something wrong? If so, it was meant to be Crescent who had been born, not Chitter. She won't come in a while. As for a homecoming with Mantricker and his granddaughter, you'll just have to wait and see... Wink

krwordgazer

Tenderfoot-- so sorry! No, it was my mistake, not yours. You wrote "Crescent," and I meant to type "Crescent," but I must have had Chitter on my mind or something. And then I wrote "grandson" instead of "granddaughter." I must really have been typing too fast! Whoops! :oops:

The reason I thought Bearclaw's wound was more serious was this:

[quote:d1655a9652]The wound was deep, not deadly, but deep enough to be dangerous. The first thought that ran through the king’s head was to get the castle doctor.[/quote:d1655a9652]

But perhaps, even if the wound is small, it should be mentioned that Bearclaw washes up before he goes and grabs Joyleaf's hands-- otherwise, her reaction is more likely to be "Eww!" than anything else! Grin

krwordgazer

Very well, I'll change it! :D

Done!

Tenderfoot

Quote:
krwordgazer

Tenderfoot-- so sorry! No, it was my mistake, not yours. You wrote "Crescent," and I meant to type "Crescent," but I must have had Chitter on my mind or something. And then I wrote "grandson" instead of "granddaughter." I must really have been typing too fast! Whoops! :oops:



You don't need to say sorry, I make mistakes all the time myself. I wasn't called E.G.E in fourth grade for nothing!

Quote:
krwordgazer

The reason I thought Bearclaw's wound was more serious was this:

[quote:e7cc44c9d4]The wound was deep, not deadly, but deep enough to be dangerous. The first thought that ran through the king’s head was to get the castle doctor.



But perhaps, even if the wound is small, it should be mentioned that Bearclaw washes up before he goes and grabs Joyleaf's hands-- otherwise, her reaction is more likely to be "Eww!" than anything else! Grin[/quote:e7cc44c9d4]

Ah, I see. I should know better than to write when I'm in a bad mood. Nothing good comes out of it.

Perhaps I'll change that bit when I have time. While thinking about it, you're absolutely right. I sure would have stared at that hand if he reached out for me...

But I really appreciate that you take your time to do this. It's always great to read your comments, I'm learning from them. Heh, I love comments, especially since my own English teacher only managed to correct the first four pages of my mock exam. :oops: Stupid me don't understand the difference between 4 and 14...

But never mind, thank you again for your kind words! :D

krwordgazer

Tymber-- thank you! Such wonderful, detailed comments! :D The details about the forging process are based only upon other stuff I have read. I wouldn't be surprised if a real metalsmith, reading it, were to lift an eyebrow at me and say, "but weren't you aware. . . ?" Grin

As for whether New Moon is "the perfect sword," I leave that up to the reader to conjecture. Wink

Tenderfoot, I'm glad you find my comments helpful. Your writing is really fun to read. :D

bukittyan

Just popping in to say I've enjoyed all the stories this month!

Redhead Ember- I like your poem. Nice work!

Tymber- More Stonehowl Holt! The scene with the bear was really intense! And twin Recognitions; I'm curious to find out how this turns out. And I'm also curious as to what sort of tribe these new elves are. April can't come too fast for me!

Tenderfoot- Beautiful story! I liked the conversation between Mantricker and Bearclaw. I could see their expressions as they talked! I hope this isn't the end, I'd like to know who really killed Strongbow's father as well!

krwordgazer- That was an interesting take on Two-Edge. It's nice to see his gentler side, which is so often hidden. Very nicely done.

bukittyan

[quote:e1d6d5d80a]I am so glad and thankful for those of you who are walking this journey with me and the tribe! Smile[/quote:e1d6d5d80a]

We're glad you have the tribe to write about. :) And I admire that you're able to come up with these stories and build upon them from all the random story elements!

Tenderfoot

[quote:4bbadee437="bukittyan"]Tenderfoot- Beautiful story! I liked the conversation between Mantricker and Bearclaw. I could see their expressions as they talked! I hope this isn't the end, I'd like to know who really killed Strongbow's father as well![/quote:4bbadee437]

*bows* Thank you! I really tried to write it so that the reader would feel like they "were there". And don't worry, this isn't the end. I'll continue on with my Middle Age saga for at least a year. Wink As for the one who killed Strongbow's father, that will be revealed later. I promise!


[quote:4bbadee437="krwordgazer"]Tenderfoot, I'm glad you find my comments helpful. Your writing is really fun to read. :D [/quote:4bbadee437]

Thankies! :D

Embala

You had to wait so long for the promised collage, Redhead :oops:

Now - the poem was clear ... the idea was ready ... the choice of pictures was obvious - but ...
I hadn't visualized the problems the b/w comic would make! I needed colors ... guess my first (and hopefully last) attempt at "coloring" worked well enough Wink

Here's the collage for your inspiring poem ...

[img:1663ee458c]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Etumla/DarkSecret_text_750-1.jpg[/img:1663ee458c]

... and it can count as a fully valid contribution, too :D

bukittyan

Beautiful collage Embala! I like how Sunstream is black and white to all the colorful magic, except for the yellow.

Embala

Thanks, [b:ded48bc778]bukittyan[/b:ded48bc778]. Glad you like it ... hoped it would work to highlight only the magic light - and the new green. :D


What a wonderful story, [b:ded48bc778]krwordgazer[/b:ded48bc778]! Almost missed it :oops: - would have been such a pity. I always liked Two-edge somehow - now he's even more likable. You are describing so lively, so colorful ... the pictures almost come to life! I love it !!!

krwordgazer

Thanks, Bukittyan and Embala!

Embala, your collage is a perfect synthesis of that story-- and Redhead's poem. Beautiful!

RedheadEmber

[quote:23f5e35dab="Embala"]You had to wait so long for the promised collage, Redhead :oops:

...

Here's the collage for your inspiring poem ...

[img:23f5e35dab]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Etumla/DarkSecret_text_750-1.jpg[/img:23f5e35dab][/quote:23f5e35dab]

[color=red:23f5e35dab]Well... the wait was surely worth it! That is [i:23f5e35dab]amazing!!![/i:23f5e35dab][/color:23f5e35dab]

Icemoon

**gasp**
that's awesome embala !!!
but you asurely know that ^^

Embala

wow ... ! ... that feedback's - a bit stunning ...

[b:7bbc77d120]Wordgazer[/b:7bbc77d120], perfection is a big word and means a lot from you.

[b:7bbc77d120]Redhead[/b:7bbc77d120], ... YAY! Your great appreciation is amazing for me!

[b:7bbc77d120]Icemoon[/b:7bbc77d120], now I'm a bit breathless!

To tell the truth - At times I'm more unsecure about my "art" than you may guess ... especially when a pic wouldn't "grow" by itself - when I had to plan the elements ... creating them more by wit than sentiment.
In this case positive feedback always feels rather astonishing ... and so incredibly welcome :D

RedheadEmber

[color=red:d0e04ee000]I actually only noticed that now! :P [/color:d0e04ee000]

Embala

Hahahaha Grin ... actually it was the easiest part, [b:2ea692c59e]Tymber[/b:2ea692c59e] - but SO necessary! When I added the poem on black back it looked ... just awful - not belonging together. Than I remembered this Madcoil pic ... and it looked perfect.

Believe me, Redhead, you would have seen it missing!
Thought at first sight that it would work well as a background alone - let's see how you like it:

[img:2ea692c59e]http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e364/Etumla/DarkSecret_poem.png[/img:2ea692c59e]

Tenderfoot

Holy mascarpone, Embala, that's just gorgeous!



Made a change to my story. Thanks to KR for pointing out Bearclaw's hand.

RedheadEmber

[color=red:9d62b6a113]That's cool Embala! 8)

Er... Tenderfoot... is mascarphone even a word? :P [/color:9d62b6a113]

Tenderfoot

Yep, an ingredient in an Italian dessert, Tiramisú.

[img:8f516d2dc1]http://www.sweetdreamsweb.com/standard%20cakes/Tiramisu-Mascarpone.jpg[/img:8f516d2dc1]

Yummy, or what? :P

Icemoon

miam !!!
oh ! I'm hungry, now ^^

RedheadEmber

[color=red:aa57e77ad3]Me too...[/color:aa57e77ad3]

JadeOwl

::waves:: Hey guys!

Just a little drabble to round out the month and get me back in writing form. :D

***

There was something [i:111f557a03]new[/i:111f557a03] growing inside her. She could feel it - stretching her, shaping her stomach huge and round, an egg of her own, as twisted, as cruel. She wondered if, when it was born, it would whisper the same secrets as the other Egg high above, burn her with the same truths.

She did not like to wonder. She did not like to admit that they [i:111f557a03]were[/i:111f557a03] truths, the symbols there. She understood why Voll lay alone, blind, dreaming.

She did not like to dream, either. He haunted her - the green mountain of a thing, who had caressed her with greedy violence, his need like a welcome whip against her skin. In her dreams, he brought her jewels and bangles of brightmetal, spoke words foreign to his clumsy tongue. She flung him away - but his bones remained, charred and twisted beyond recognition.

There was something [i:111f557a03]new[/i:111f557a03] growing inside her, something green-mountain and clear stars both, the song of the inner egg clashing with the song of the outside world. [i:111f557a03]It will be brought inside.[/i:111f557a03] The Egg had whispered. [i:111f557a03]New blood, new death, new seeing.[/i:111f557a03] And so she had fled - for better her willingness that brought it than the blood the symbols foretold.

There was something new growing inside her, and perhaps it would be enough.

Embala

Fascinating insight, Jade Owl ---and a bit cryptic, too. I love the comparism of the Great Egg and her Child - unexpected, but very fitting with the foretelling of Two-Edge's whispering rhymes.


I wonder about this: [quote:323bf06d0a="Jade Owl"]... She flung him away - but his bones remained, charred and twisted beyond recognition ....[/quote:323bf06d0a]
Winnowill had killed Smelt before the eyes of his little son - have you let do her the killing before his birth by purpose?
Or --- have I misunderstood the "bones"?


btw: Do I remember right you having a story about Tyldak and Dewshine in the December grab-bag? If you have saved this one elsewhere please repost it! I loved this one!

JadeOwl

I was thinking of it more of a warning - a prophetic dream sort of deal? And it feeds into why Two Edge is so curious about his Father's bones - he knows, somehow, that they are important. The psychic Red flag, if you will, was there from before he was born.

And unfortunately, Grab Bags are usually things I write on the spot, just in the reply box on the forum - it's kind of a terrible idea, I realize now, since I only have one saved on my computer (the one for September of last year, which I'll post in a moment).

I really liked that one, too, sorry. :(

Embala

owww ... Unhappy

Nightsea

I always wondered why Two-Edge would think his father's
bones were important, actually. In the rest of EQ we don't
get much fuss over funeral rites. Maybe he just wants
the proof that his Mom did the deed because she actively
drove him crazy and his split mind doesn't know truth from
lie? In canon, she seems to kill Smelt in front of a caged
Two-Edge, but perhaps no one has an accurate memory
of that time after all. Your contribution seems full of
brooding and has a haunting flavor, [b:3a4e1be51b]Jade Owl[/b:3a4e1be51b].
Nicely evocative of a Blue (Mountain) vibe!

I lost my Sept. contribution from last time, which
I recall was another look at Tyleet's recognition. I still
have the image I made for it, but have lost all the prose.
So I sympathize with everyone who has had grab-bags
poof.

Taking a cue from others here, I decided to put more
effort into continuing one story with my contributions.
But no one seems to have anything to say about the
Vytha tale...did anyone read it? Should I not use
grab-bags to keep me pushing ahead with that thread?

I'm ok with whatever feedback you care to offer, folks.
And if you've no time or interest I can cope with silence
too. I realize that my own lack of communication sometimes
might seem rude or overlooking of worthy efforts...to which I
can only offer that in my case no news is just what happens
in my busy life. I do try with every post I make to actually
PRODUCE something...text or art or at least a hopefully
welcome comment. And I keep my time on the forum
limited to a few threads and topics just so I can even
lurk effectively (oxymoron!).

But anyway, I'm asking for opinions now. To Vytha or
not to Vytha with my grab-bags, that is the question...
--Nightsea

Embala

Oh Nightsea - this gnaws at my conscience even more :oops:

Can only speak for myself - I'm so aware of having commented on every contribution here - and ignoring yours. Not neglecting to commemt - but neglecting to read.

My reason is as simple s hard to alter - the older chapters. I don't want to jump in in the midst ... and am afraid of trying to catch upwith the story. It's hard for me to keep folowing those I already started. :( [size=9:30cc6b78f2][i:30cc6b78f2]Yes, I read Stonehowl - but Tymber "tricked me in" Wink - his story took sort af a "newstart" just the right moment.[/i:30cc6b78f2][/size:30cc6b78f2] I'm curious for Vytha - but it's one of so many things I want to do. Please believe me - it has nothing to do with you ... or your story ... simply with time. Picture art is so much easier to consume - one glance ... or a second closer look ... is enough.

I know - this explanation doesn't help you with the story but I didn't want to ignore you once more. :hug2:


One thing I realized when I tried to take a look on the story this weekend - [b:30cc6b78f2]I hardly found the link again.[/b:30cc6b78f2] It's so "understated". If you decide to go on with Vytha in the grab-bags - perhaps you should do like Tymber - double posting!

jeb

Nightsea - I admit I haven't read your Vytha stories for the same reason Embala mentioned, with some of these stories I am jumping in the middle and I want to be able to start at the beginning so I always think that someday when I have more time I will read the whole thing - unfortunately "somedays" are few and far between. I would like to read it and will eventually.

As far as whether you should continue - hell, yeah! I also sometimes feel discouraged because I'm not getting feedback like I want, but then I figure if I enjoy doing it, I'm gonna do it. If nobody likes my stuff, they don't have to read it, but if maybe one or two people do, then it's worth it.

I am putting your Vytha story at the top of my to-do list.

jeb

[quote:024ca30f9f="Embala"]


btw: Do I remember right you having a story about Tyldak and Dewshine in the December grab-bag? If you have saved this one elsewhere please repost it! I loved this one![/quote:024ca30f9f]

[b:024ca30f9f]Jade Owl[/b:024ca30f9f] - The story Embala is asking about it one of the only two stories I've ever downloaded to word from the grab-bags. If you would like, I could send it to you.

Embala

:o PLEEEAASE !!! :D

Nightsea

[quote:2ae45aa8f6="Embala"]this gnaws at my conscience even more[/quote:2ae45aa8f6]
I certainly don't mean to make anyone feel guilty!
I completely understand! Heck, I am exactly the
same way myself, as I said above. I haven't gotten into many
things...like the whole Elfwest tangent. I just don't have time
and I like to stick to canon kinda. So naturally my Vytha tale
is the same kinda deal...she's a tangent that will have limited appeal.
(And being a private playground even more limited still than something
collaborative. Although I'd never object to someone creating art based
on my story! And I do have some art there myself.)

I take well the point that in future, if I post in the monthly thread
I will need to post a chunk of text. Or art. Or both.

Perhaps I should abandon Vytha as a grab-bag option and just
stick to my previous one-offs (haven't yet decided).
I don't mean that I'll abandon Vytha...just that I'll have to
push her tale along without the monthly impetous.
Maybe I can just promise myself (& any potential readers)
that I'll keep posting in her thread often.

Tymber was kind enough to comment in Vytha's thread, and
I'm sure his queries will apply to anyone jumping in now. The
"What has gone before" was long, but then it summarized 6 thread
pages. I'll only say that now is a good time to catch up, because
I do have a plot arch for Vytha that will keep us moving along.
New and old characters alike will meet and my alternaverse
will expand.

See you there IF!

And if not, that's fine too!

Thanks folks,
--Nightsea

JadeOwl

[quote:2a83752ce5="jeb"][quote:2a83752ce5="Embala"]


btw: Do I remember right you having a story about Tyldak and Dewshine in the December grab-bag? If you have saved this one elsewhere please repost it! I loved this one![/quote:2a83752ce5]

[b:2a83752ce5]Jade Owl[/b:2a83752ce5] - The story Embala is asking about it one of the only two stories I've ever downloaded to word from the grab-bags. If you would like, I could send it to you.[/quote:2a83752ce5]

Oh, PLEASE. That would be wonderful! :heart:

jeb

I just PM'ed it to you. The formatting didn't come through so you might have to go in and re-italicize and do a little editing.

jeb

O.K. this is really, really late, but for some reason it was really, really hard to write. Usually my stories obsess me until I get them written, but this one I really had to push myself, so I'm not sure if it's really up to my standards (My personality is really a lot like Rayek's, I usually expect everything of myself), but hey, at least it's done. Kind of an exercise in working your way through writers block by brute force.

I found these elements hard to work with. I started thinking about doing the impossible and what had already been covered. Time travel? Done. Bringing someone back to life? Done. Magic? Telepathy? Incredible feats of strength? Done, done and done.

So then I thought about what I would personally find impossible and that's when this story came to me. I originally thought that I might need a PG-13 rating on this, but graphic descriptions of sex or violence are not really my style. I will warn that it is a bit dark, and like I said, not my greatest work.


COLLIDE

In the early years of the High Ones coming, the children of Timmorn were divided in two. There were those in whom the elf-blood was the strongest, those who would become the Wolfriders.

Then there were the others, the hunt, those who were more wolf than elf. These were tightly bound to the world of two moons, born with the strength and instincts of predators. They looked down on what they saw as the weakness of the first comers, and when Timmorn chose Rahnee to lead after him, the hunt left. No more is told of them.

But the world is a strange place, both larger and smaller at times than we believe, and it is possible that there are stories of meetings between the two tribes in times long forgotten. This is one such story of paths crossed and lives changed.

_____________________________________________________________


Wolf and elf did not always rest easily together in the mind. Timmorn was the first to be subject to the effects, pulled sometimes to the here and now of animal thought, others to the far-reaching expanse of the starry heavens. His descendants were, to varying degrees, better off than he was. Or worse.

He was an outcast from his tribe. Though proud of their wolfishness, there was such a thing as being too much of an animal, and he was. For the pack to function there had to be some order, a hierarchy enforced. Those who could not accept the order of the pack were forced out. So he hunted alone.

_____________________________________________________________

*Wait for me!* Twinstar hopped along the forest path, hurriedly pulling on her boot while trying to catch up with her friend and lovemate, Dusk.

The two were going hunting together, the way they had done everything for as long as anyone could remember. In a world where children were few and far between, they shared a special bond of being born near the same time. But what they had was something more than being age-mates.

At first glance, it was their differences that were most striking. She was fair, silver hair and sparkling eyes, a beam of moonlight dancing in the forest, caught in elfin form. Her thoughts were like the moon, too, high up in the sky, shining and shimmering, beyond some of the tribe’s reach. He was brown, the rich, deep brown of the soil that nourished the forest. His eyes black as midnight. He was patient, gentle, and caring, a true brother to all creatures.

But despite their differences, they seemed to be born of one mind. Talking, even sending, was sometimes unnecessary. Yet they could talk for hours, or sit silently, complete in each other’s presence. He tethered her to the world, she freed him of it.

Playmates had slipped easily to lovemates, and would soon be lifemates in the fullness of time. All their tribe-mates assumed Recognition would not be a question of if, but when.

Her foot firmly in her boot now, Twinstar moved quickly and silently through the forest, her silver hair shining in the moonlight like a streak of skyfire. Her eyes glittered in the dark like the celestial bodies that gave her her name.

She was running so hard to catch up that she almost ran right into Dusk. Her complement, his dark eyes and hair were a part of the forest shadows. He gave her a teasing scowl, then broke into an easy smile.

Better organized now, they headed deeper into the forest.
_____________________________________________________________

*I hope we find something soon.*

Dusk did not answer, but he shared Twinstar’s anxiety. Prey-pacer had only given them an eight-of-days to hunt before the tribe would be on the move once again. They had already used half that time, and the only game they’d found were a few ravvits, just enough to keep up their strength. If they didn’t find some game soon, they would have to return empty-handed and the tribe would be traveling light indeed, on empty bellies.

He was about to suggest looking elsewhere when Twinstar held up a cautioning hand. They stood motionless, then he heard it, the rustling of leaves in the underbrush, then the stomping that told of some larger game. Three scrawny springers were in the clearing, pulling the bark off of the few still tender saplings. It was not game to be proud of, but it was something.

Dusk readied his spear, while Twinstar notched her arrow. Twinstar’s arrow flew true, hitting the springer just behind the shoulder. Dusk was not as lucky, hitting his in the rump. His dazed target began to stumble away. He burst into the clearing after it.

But they were not the only ones watching this game. Something else shot out of the forest too. Twinstar had the impression of fur and fangs, strength and fury. Snarling, it smacked into Dusk with enough force to lift him off his feet and into the brush.

“Mine!”

Twinstar ran to Dusk, stunned by the bare branches that pierced through his body and the unnatural tilt of his head.

*Dusk?*

There was no answer. He was breathing, but his breath sounded wet and rough.

“Mine!”

Twinstar turned her attention now to the creature. There was no doubt that he was elfin, but he was unlike any elf she had seen before. What she had taken for fur was a mass of shaggy hair and a covering of untanned furs. Her eyes lingered on his odd, three-toed feet before coming to rest on his face. Under his heavy brows his eyes were muddy pits.

[i:b33ed2590f]Cern[/i:b33ed2590f].

Twinstar shuddered as her world suddenly lurched.

“Mine.” He stood menacingly over the dead springer. His voice, pure aggression before, now held a hint of confusion.

They remained like this for a while, Twinstar sending desperately to Dusk, trying to think through the shock of what to do, he standing over the kill, watching her.

Finally, she could do nothing more than put her head down on Dusk’s chest and weep. The strange elf crouched down and, producing a rough stone knife, began to eat.

_____________________________________________________________

She was dimly aware of passing time, so was startled to hear a rustling close by and a rough hand yanking her shoulder.

“We go.”

The words seemed to make no sense.

He gripped her upper arm more firmly.

“What? No! I’m not going anywhere with you!” Even as she protested she was acutely aware of the effect of his hand upon her body, of the effects of Recognition already at work.

She tried to pull away, but he tightened his grip, a low growl sounding from deep in his throat. She wasn’t sure how much he understood of what was happening between them, but it was clear he was not letting her get away.

“We go, now!”

She put her arms protectively around Dusk. “We can’t. He can’t be moved, he won’t survive it.”

He stood impassively, his gaze faraway as the futility of her words struck her. Even though she wanted to, there was no way for her to take Dusk with them. He would have to remain here. She knew there was no hope for him, but she couldn’t stand the thought of leaving his body here to slowly starve or freeze.

Reluctantly, she pulled the ancient metal knife from his side. She had always marveled at how smoothly the bright-metal pierced the flesh. Detached, now, she felt the blade slip through the ribs, the quiver as it punctured the heart, beating so weakly now it produced only a weak stream. With sudden, painful awareness of what she’d just done, her hands covered her face, salt tears mingling with warm blood. She did not even see Dusk's last breath as she was dragged away.
_____________________________________________________________

They spent the next several days traveling, moving slowly, aimlessly during the nights, resting fitfully during the days. He kept her always in front of him, always in sight. She had hoped that she would be able to sneak off while he slept, but instead she found that neither of them was sleeping much. Once or twice, when his eyes were closed she had tried to move away, but at every noise she made his eyes would snap open and with a growl he would move closer.

Because of his need for constant vigilance there had only been a few half-hearted attempts at hunting. Not that it mattered, neither had much of an appetite.

Twinstar knew the elf felt the effects of Recognition as strongly as she did, but so far he hadn’t come any closer to her or touched her anymore than needed to make it clear she couldn’t leave. She had never heard of anyone denying Recognition before. Although she wanted to leave, she was frightened to find out what it would mean if she did.

Finally, she could stand it no longer.

She could see his eyes burning beyond the fire. Unblinking, he watched her every movement, as if not able to make up his mind about something. She made up hers. He had taken Dusk’s knife and her bow had been left behind. She had nothing to fight with, but she could see no other way.

She stood. He rose with her. They faced each other over the embers of the dying fire, then she bolted toward the forest. He was too quick. He caught her and pulled her back to the fire.

“Let me go!” He did. Just as every other time he had touched her he quickly dropped his arms as if unable to deal with the emotions such touches created. Could it be he really didn’t know? Twinstar cackled, a nervous outpouring of the ridiculousness of the situation. “You only have two choices. Mate with me, or kill me. I don’t care. Just get it over with.”

He made no response. She turned away from the fire and suddenly he was upon her. She fell head first to the ground, wincing as her jaw clamped down on dirt and pine-needles. Her thin leathers ripped as he pulled them away. Pinned, she could not move and struggled to gasp for air, sickened by his touch and her own body’s response to it. She had only one comfort, at least she wouldn’t have to see his face.

_____________________________________________________________

*Twinstar!*

The sending was very faint, but it roused her. The tribe had not moved on, they were out looking for her. She did not answer, but moving as quietly as possible, looked over at where he was. He was crouched a few feet away, not looking at her, but not alerted to anything. He must not have sensed the sending.

If she answered now, they would find both of them. Now that Recognition was satisfied, she had no desire to ever see him again. She knew him, knew what drove him away from the others. Knew the possessiveness he felt, something she and her tribe mates could never understand. He would never fit in with the rest of the tribe.

Where did she fit in now? How could she go back and face the others with what she had done?

*Dusk!*

It was Joygleam, Dusk’s mother. Twinstar’s heart jumped to her throat. They didn’t know that Dusk was dead! Before she knew what she was doing Twinstar had leapt forward and was confused as the ground suddenly came up at her. He had her around the legs. She clawed at the ground, pulling herself forward as he pulled her back.

Her hands found a branch and held on as tightly as she could, the bark breaking away under her fingernails. He pulled harder and she flew backward as the branch cracked.

*Twinstar!*

The sending was getting fainter. They were moving away!

She kicked at him, and managed to get herself turned around to face him. She stopped struggling. She stayed still, pinned under his weight. For a minute she worried, would the taste of one joining bring a hunger for more? She felt his breath coming hard and fast against her stomach, but gradually it began to slow. Sure that he had stopped her, he began to rise. In one movement she brought the branch up against his temple and rolled over to her feet, and was soon running through the forest, sending to her tribe mates.

_____________________________________________________________

Joygleam stared at where Twinstar had burst through the foliage, as if another figure might appear by magic.

“I’m sorry. The fang-tooth was just too much for us. If it wasn’t for Dusk I never would have gotten away.” Twinstar’s voice broke as her tears started flowing freely. Joygleam came over and embraced the younger elf. Twinstar nuzzled into the older elf’s neck, grateful that no one could see her face, her voice barely a whisper. “We Recognized. I carry Dusk’s child.”

Embala

[quote:1e675b3024="jeb"]O.K. this is really, really late, ...[/quote:1e675b3024]
Believe me - if I'll ever manage to catch up with the collages I'v in mind as rough sketches ... you'll know what's REALLY late Grin

The story is great, Jeb! I love the setting in early Wolfrider times ... love the outertribe recognition of an almost-wolf ...
Okay - don't "love" the bitter decisions and sufferings Twinstar is going through, but everything is described plausible and neccessary. And well written :D

Almost everything ...! The final lie - understandable, born of confusion, desperation and shame, but ... too human. Don't think it can work on EQ elves - remember: [i:1e675b3024]There is no lie in sending![/i:1e675b3024] This lie- wouldn't this mean Twinstar can never send again to her tribemates? At least not about Dusk - the Recognition, the longtooth, her escape, nor about her child ... especially not to the "grandparents" :roll: I'm afraid this lie would cause more trouble than the truth.

jeb

[quote:93ecc5017a="Embala"]Almost everything ...! The final lie - understandable, born of confusion, desperation and shame, but ... too human. Don't think it can work on EQ elves - remember: [i:93ecc5017a]There is no lie in sending![/i:93ecc5017a] This lie- wouldn't this mean Twinstar can never send again to her tribemates? At least not about Dusk - the Recognition, the longtooth, her escape, nor about her child ... especially not to the "grandparents" :roll: I'm afraid this lie would cause more trouble than the truth.[/quote:93ecc5017a]

Yes, I thought about this too, but after two months I was really more focused on getting it done and over with than working out how to deal with that problem.

Just one of many weak points I feel there are in this story. Ah, well. Someone on the forum once posted some advice about drawing saying that everyone has to do 1000 bad drawings before they can do a good one and that's the point of practice. So only 999 more bad stories to write...*sigh*

Embala

Surprised Wouldn't call it bad!

Just the ending ... shows that you want to finish it. Maybe - let it end open. She returns ... many questions at once ... she stammers something ... collapses. Leave any explanation to a sequel - may there be one or not.

:oops: [size=9:003a8a6b1f]I'm really not the one to give a writer advice in plot matters [/size:003a8a6b1f]

MrsGrizzley

Maybe she stammers something along the lines of . . . "The longtooth was too strong . . . tried to help Dusk . . . Recognition . . . a cub . . . Oh High Ones, Dusk is gone!" And then she collapses and leaves them to draw their own conclusions.

Deception isn't in what you say, it's in what the listener hears.

Mrs. Grizzley

krwordgazer

The new additions are great!

JadeOwl, I don't understand how you manage to get all the elements into that tiny bit of a story-- that takes a lot of skill! And your story is skillful; even though it's short, it manages to be complete. Very rich in both idea and image!

Jeb, yours was indeed dark, and intense-- but very good! There's a place for dark, after all. I felt sorry for all three of the characters, caught in this sometimes-not-nice-at-all thing that Recognition is when the glamor is stripped away. At any event, you both engaged me in the action and involved me with the characters in a very short period of time. :D

As for the end-- I don't have a problem with the lie, since she spoke and didn't send. Yes, I can see all the consequences Embala mentioned, but those would just be new complications in the next segment. What's wrong with Twinstar? I know she's grieving for Dusk, but she seems ashamed, and not at all happy to be bearing his child. And why won't she send to us about anything that happened, or about how she's really feeling?

And then a close friend or family member would get the truth out of her, and the tribe would have to decide what to do if Cern shows up again-- as he almost certainly will.

Lots of potentialities. It's actually a pretty good story!

jeb

Thanks, KR! A few words of encouragement and I'm starting to feel a little better about this story.

Originally Cern was supposed to kill Dusk, and Twinstar was going to kill Cern, but I found when I got to that part of the story that I just didn't feel like describing the murder explicitly so I left it vague. So I guess he could come back.

And darn that sending, makes it so hard to write a story about elves keeping secrets!