The elements are...
A reflection (in a mirror, a pond or whatever)
A star or something star-shaped, like a starfish.
Tainted blood-- this can be wolf blood or something similar, or it can be blood tainted by poison, venom or disease.
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.
Note: The original thread for this month appears to have been deleted. If you had a submission for this, you may want to re-post it.
The setting sun lit up the sky like flame. The world was golden, accenting the long shadows cast by the sandstone cliffs. A figure rose from the shadow depths and stood atop the cliffs, surveying the valley floor below, his spear glinting in the last fading rays of sunlight.
Night, the time when the desert springs to life. Spared from the heat of the day, the small animals would begin their foraging for what little food there was. The predators were on the move as well, looking for whatever they could catch with fang and claw, and sometimes, honed metal.
In the distance there was a faint sound of snuffling and grunting. The quarry was spotted. The figured picked his cloak up and wrapped it around himself, his only protection from the quickly cooling night air. Silently he made his way down the cliff-side, following the sound of the desert pigs as they scavenged for roots and insects.
The sound got louder and louder, until he knew the herd was just on the other side of the brush. He stood stone still, listening carefully for which way the group was moving. He lifted his spear. This prey was loud, but not stupid. If he gave himself away too soon, they would be gone before he could get close enough. He waited as they got closer. Finally, the first of the animals came out into the moonlight in the clearing before him. He released his spear, flying in a perfect arc towards the lead boar.
As he tossed his spear, his cloak was pulled taut against his back, where it touched, a sudden, searing sting. He rolled his shoulders, hoping to shed the pain, but it came again, biting, burning, overpowering all thought of the hunt.
He whipped off his cloak with a snap and saw the cause of his torment. A bit of blackness, like the sky fallen to the ground. A few legs moved in its death throes, stretching and flexing in mindless spasms. The moonlight glinted off its hard body like twinkling stars. On its abdomen he could just make out the crimson shape of a dipper.
A Mate-Eater, the smallest and deadliest of the desert’s dangers. Gingerly, he felt the spot between his shoulder blades. Two welts, burning like fire against his fingers.
It wouldn’t be long, he knew, before his body would no longer be under his mind’s control. He had to move quickly.
His spear was gone with the squealing boar as it ran to its certain death. He pulled out his knife. Bowing his shoulders, he swiped the blade as best he could reach, hissing at the new pain. The swath of skin fell to the ground, hopefully taking some of the venom with it.
He could feel the moist warmth dripping down his back, the cool air grating on raw nerves. Stiffly, he retrieved the cloak and swung it over him, wincing as it settled on his back.
Now, to get help. How many days out was he? He couldn’t even be sure anymore.
His way out had been circuitous, his path dictated by the nearness of water and shade. His survival depended on getting as far as he could as quickly as possible. His way back would be direct, over the cliffs and across the hard-pan desert floor.
Scrambling up the cliff was harder now than it ever had been. Every lifting of his arms pure agony as the movement opened the wound fresh again. There was no way up that did not require reaching and pulling, stretching flesh and muscle that cried out against the effort.
Even though the night was cool, the pain and exertion soon worked up a sweat, the salty perspiration running down his back, stinging. He tried to keep his thoughts on nothing but the next handhold, the next foothold, never looking at how much further he had to go until finally the ground in front of him was flat. He pulled himself to the top with a groan. He wanted to stop and rest, but it was a luxury he could not afford. Quickly getting up on his feet he started across the wide plateau, a solitary figure moving swiftly and steadily, dwarfed beneath the starry sky.
It was nearly dawn when he reached the edge of the plateau. He paused for a moment to drink from his waterskin and contemplate the valley below him. This would be the true test. Normally, he would stay here in the shadow of the mountain, waiting for the cool of night before attempting to cross the wide basin. But already his hands were shaking. He could barely hold the waterskin still. Precious drops of water fell on his chest and to the sandy ground. He steeled himself mentally and prepared for the descent.
The agony was incredible. During the night’s walk, the cloak had dried to the skinned flesh of his back. Now, his movements pulled it free with a pain worse than the initial wound. The cloak was no longer supple and pliant, but stiff and heavy, abrading the tender flesh beneath. Worse, he was having trouble coordinating his feet and hands. Several times he found himself sliding down the slope, landing on a boulder or bush with a jarring suddenness. Finally, one last mis-step and he found himself sliding down the rocky scree, getting his hands out in front of him just in time to stop a head first impact with a large boulder.
He stood for a minute with his hands resting against the rock. The sun had come up with blazing ferocity and now burned down on him, the hot air and dust he had kicked up making him choke. His arms and legs shook even as he stood still. The bile rose to his throat and he bent down to the dusty ground. His body tried to purge itself of the poison, an unnaturally bright and green color against the brown dirt. His head swum and he fought against the blackness coming in from the edges of his vision. He put his head down against the still cool roughness of the boulder. He had to go on. He pushed himself back up to standing and headed out into the nothingness.
It shimmered before him, a vision of water greater than anything he would ever have imagined, always before him, but always beyond his reach, no matter how far he walked. His conscious mind would have recognized it as an illusion, if his conscious mind were working at all.
He had become a shell, with no thought or purpose, moving instinctually, consumed by the effort of putting one foot in front of the other.
Not even thirst drove him forward. The waterskin had long since been abandoned, his body no longer knowing the difference between water and poison.
The footprints in the sand were irregular. His pace had been slowing, as more and more time was spent on keeping balance and staying upright. Finally, even that was too much for him. He could no longer resist the pull of gravity. Weighted by the heat of the day, the dust barely stirred as he collapsed. Only one last spark of consciousness strayed out into the stillness.
Hardness. Heaviness. The strange sensation of awareness of himself returning. His arms, his legs. Finally the sense enough to open his eyes. He expected the drying sun, but found himself instead in cool darkness.
“Shhh.” He heard the sound of water pouring, the soft chiming of metal. “I have taken care of the worst of your injuries. You still need to rest.”
He felt her arms, strong and gentle, around him, pulling him up, then the cup against his lips. The water was soothing, washing away the grit of sand from his throat.
He was grateful for the water, the coolness, the presence of Leetah. But even as he felt it, the gratitude was sliding away, sinking into a feeling of shame.
She should never have done this. Never to have needed to. Never have seen him this way, broken and helpless. He tried to lift himself but his body, already taxed to the limit, would do no more. Defeated, he allowed himself the sink back to the cushion.
Leetah saw his struggling. He grip, surprisingly firm, held him in place. “No you don’t. You’re not going anywhere.”
He could hear it in her voice, her amusement, laughing at him helpless as a child. This was not the way it should be. He was stronger, he could do what all the other Sun Villagers could not. He should be protecting her.
He lay with his eyes closed until he heard her footsteps on the stairs. He rose quickly, ignoring the sinking in his stomach as the hut swam about him. He gathered his things as quietly as he could and headed toward his cave home. He would recuperate there, away from the scorn and misplaced intentions of the Sun Villagers.
He was Rayek, hunter and magic user. Not weak and helpless like the rest of them. And no one would ever see him that way. Never again.
We lost all the grab bags that were destroyed in the hacker attack again - and a lot more
I've been working on updating all the links for the grab-bag listing, trying to figure out which ones are missing and wondering
1 - should I really be bothering with this?
2 - should I make new threads for the ones that are missing?
I did for this one kind of for my own ego, since I had a submission. But for the ones that I didn't submit I'm not sure what to do.