Short Story Contest 2014 Entry: Midnattblod

Discussion in 'Original Works' started by Midnattblod, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    ok just to set the stage, this story takes place in the world of Ulfgard (my world I created for my series). it follows an adventure of two unlikely companions, a Miirzanian Fox-clan warrior named Thorek, and a female mage named Lyvina. I picked SJ's song and my two prompts along with Lord Yuan's picture (I think, kinda winging the last bit cause I don't have it all written down on paper but yea). ok so sit back and relax, and enjoy a glimpse at my procrastinating creativity.

    Evening crept over the ruins as Thorek and Lyvina walked up the bridge. The moon was climbing up the sky, nearly clear of the distant mountains. A smattering of stars dotted the sky, which was growing progressively darker. They could hear wolves howling in the distance, as well as the sound of the wind, as though giant wings beat all around. Other sounds of nature could be discerned as well. Waterfalls all around added a calm rumble to the cacophony of sounds.
    "Let's head into the tower, get out of this wind," Thorek yelled over the sound. Lyvina nodded, pulling her hood tighter around her head.
    They made their way across the remainder of the bridges, passing the statue of some forgotten woman, probably a deity of sorts. Lyvina had a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach as they entered the tower.
    Inside, the tower was a mess of deteriorating furniture. Lyvina cast a spell to add a bit of light just as Thorek shut the door. As Thorek came into the light, Lyvina giggled quietly. For three months now they have traveled together, but she could not get accustomed to his bushy fox tail. He was the first Miirzanian she had ever met, and she was glad to have met him. On more then one occasion, he had saved her life.
    One such instance saw them traveling through the mountains, dusk had fallen, and out of nowhere, a large pack of wulgas attacked. Lyvina and Thorek fought them off, but not without a few close calls. One of the wulgas had somehow worked its way behind Lyvina and pounced towards her exposed back. Before its deadly jaws could make contact with her, Thorek had stopped it cold with a well place axe throw.
    Lyvina shuddered at the memory of that night. She looked around to see Thorek piling old wood together for a campfire. When he was satisfied with the amount gathered, he went to work lighting it. Lyvina started setting up the bed rolls.
    As the fire grew in strength, the two companions sat down and pulled out some food. As always it was a silent meal, Thorek not being one for talk while he ate. Lyvina was fine with it though, as it gave her the opportunity to think. Her thoughts quickly strayed to the one thing that always occupied them in the past few months, Miirzanians. She wanted to know more about them as a whole, but unfortunately Thorek never gave her straight answers. She had vowed that she would one day go to the far north herself and see how this wonderfully exotic race lived their day to day lives. Maybe even stay with Thorek and his family, have someone she's used to being around show her what their world is like.
    Laying down for sleep, Lyvina glanced over at Thorek, who was positioning himself to stand watch, and smiled. She felt safe in his presence, always comforted by the fact that his honor would never let anything happen to a friend. She turned around and fell quickly to sleep.

    ******

    Lyvina woke suddenly in the middle of the night, her heart pounding. What was that she thought looking around. Thorek was standing next to her, axe in hand holding a finger to his lips indicating her to keep silent. She slowly got up and looked around, trying to discern where the noise that had woken her came from. Thorek pointed toward the side of the tower's far side, and that's when Lyvina noticed a small trap door in the floor. Slowly Thorek walked toward this new discovery, beckoning Lyvina to follow. Once they were next to it, Thorek slowly opened it up and looked down. Lyvina followed his gaze, seeing far down the flickering light of torches.
    Lyvina looked to Thorek, her heart pounding in her throat. He smiled a reassuring kind of smile and started toward the ladder. Lyvina followed, and down the ladder they descended. after a few minutes they finally made it down to the bottom of the ladder, Lyvina's hands shaking and sweaty from anxiety. They slowly made their way down the small corridor they had come to, small muffled sounds being heard every now and again. After about 200 yards, the noises started to grow louder. At times, strange growls could be heard amongst the other noises. Rounding a bend in the corridor, they could see a doorway ahead. Coming to a halt on their side of the opening, they cautiously looked inside. The sounds were definitely coming from this room, but they were unable to see what caused it. After a few more moments of scouring the room, they decided to enter and see what they could find. Edging their way into the room, they looked all around but still were unable to find the source of the noise.
    Suddenly out of nowhere there was a clashing roar from above. Lyvina looked up and screamed. Standing over them was a giant creature, at least half again the size of a troll. It looked down on the two companions with dull eyes. It's hands were massive, and it had skin the color of ebony. Thorek lifted up his axe and took a defensive position. The creature reached for them, but drew its hand back and roared in anger as Thorek's axe made a deep gash in its thumb. It reached out for Thorek, but again drew back as this time Lyvina struck first, casting a light in its face, blinding it.
    After this it became a struggle to just keep it off of them. After a few moments, the creature had a few more gashes in its hands, but each time it struck, it came closer to making contact. Thorek noticed this and made a decision that was very difficult to make. He rushed up to the creature and clambered onto it's arm. Lyvina screamed at him to come back but Thorek new the only way to stop it was to deal a devastating blow. He reached the creatures shoulder and proceeded to hack at its face. Lyvina watched on in horror as the creature reached up and grabbed Thorek. She then watched as Thorek's axe found it's way into the creatures mouth. It must have been enough because the creature fell to the ground a few seconds later. Lyvina cautiously walked toward where Thorek was held in the grasp of the dead thing. All noise had ceased, and as she struggled to get Thorek out of the grip of this creature, she could feel his eyes on her. When she finally succeeded in freeing him, Thorek looked up at her and smiled. He reached into a pocket on his coat and pulled out a locket.
    "Can you make sure this gets to my family?" he said weakly. "Don't worry about me, I won't be able to leave this room."
    "Don't say that," Lyvina pleaded, tears softly falling off her chin.
    "There is no use hiding the fact. I enjoyed traveling with you more then any companion before."
    "Please don't..." Lyvina started, but was cut off by Thorek placing a finger on her lips.
    "Take my map, it'll lead you to where my home is," Thorek whispered, and with that his time on this world ended.



    so yea that's it. I know I didn't quite make the deadline but better late then never eh. sorry for it being rushed at the end, my formulating of thoughts kinda trailed off at the end and yea.
     
  2. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Breakdown of Scores and feedback from judges:

    Judge #1:

    Midnattblod: The story wasn’t very deep, as not much happened. The death of Thorek was a little surprising, but happened so fast, it could have used a little more emotion. There was a bit of suspense due to the scenery and its atmosphere, and the fighting scene wasn’t bad, but at the end of this scene I expected a bit more than just a character dying (and dying quickly). As to the prompts: I don’t see how SJ’s song fit into the story. Furthermore, the monster could have been described in more detail, in addition to the characters’ reactions to it. When I saw (and recognised) what this prompt was I was surprised to see how differently I imagined the creature in the story.

    Depth of story: 3
    Entertainment value: 5
    Use of prompts: 5

    Score: 13/30

    Judge #2:

    Imaginative use of prompts 5/10

    I could positively identify 3 of the prompts used in your story and the use of those was fairly literal. For example: you used the image of the bridges over the river as a background scene in the beginning of your story. It can be a little hard to incorporate imaginative prompts into a background story that you’ve already written. Certain things are already “pre-made” in a pre-existing story, which doesn’t always leave much wiggle room for additional stuff. Generating a story with the prompts that had nothing to do with your other works might have left your imagination more freedom to work.

    Entertainment Value 6/10

    I liked the imagery in this story. I had a very clear mental picture of the setting. I also liked how Lyvina was amused by Thorek’s bushy tail. That was a really clever way for you to show the reader something about Miirzanians. I always like a bit of humour included in what I read and the idea of a bushy-tailed warrior amused me too. :) I had a few issues with the story’s entertainment value though: the first being the beginning. The story was a little slow to start in describing the setting. Re-reading it, I’d suggest starting off with the “Let’s get out of this wind” line or having the characters in danger of being blown off a bridge by the wind or something. The beginning needs something to “hook” the reader and give them a reason to keep reading. The rest of the story felt a little rushed to me, particularly the ending which is a brief battle scene ending with the death of one of the characters. Expanding the battle scene and putting more suspenseful moments into it might help, especially since Thorek’s grievous injuries seemed to suddenly come out of left field. I had the impression from Lyvina that he was a pretty tough and competent warrior so it surprised me that he was apparently squished so quickly and easily.

    Depth of Story 4/10

    I liked how you took Lyvina’s curiosity about the Miirzanians in the beginning of the story and her wish to learn more about them and then linked it with Thorek’s dying wish at the end. That was a good opening to add some depth to your story but you didn’t follow through with it. You might have used Lyvina’s ignorance of Thorek’s people to demonstrate something like tensions between the races in your fantasy world for example. Perhaps Lyvina was ignorant of Miirazanians because her race historically disdained them? Maybe the two races have traditionally been enemies and the fact that these two travel together signifies that they could get along if they bothered to try? Adding depth to the story can be as simple as making character interactions that tell the reader something about the history of the world or as complex as incorporating deep themes that touch the reader on a very personal level (like learning the concept of tolerance for others who are different for example). If you hadn’t had to rush to finish this piece, I think you could have expanded it into much more. :)

    Total score 15/30

    Judge #3:

    Opening - the wind that drives them to shelter seems almost an afterthought to prompting them to enter the tower. It also seems muddled with a calmer series of nightly noises. A mention of the atmosphere not just the visual appearance of the tower would have helped clear this up. The scene does well to build history between the characters during what is otherwise a slow period in the activity/pace of the story. Food would be good to expand upon if just to help build party and character context to their situation.

    Rushing near the end MDB already covered and is indeed a detracting point in an otherwise fairly solid feeling adventure story.




    Summary
    Scores:
    Imaginative use;
    Honestly each work used the source material in their own way and, I feel, did well within their own right to add creativity to it. It's a difficult one for me to score at all since an inspirational element is inspiring to different writers in different ways.
    I will say, however, that Yuan's story feels the more original. Whilst all 3 can be pulled apart to show cores that have been "done"; Yuans' manages to hide this the best. Although I respect that a reader more keen on sci-fi and less so on fantasy might well feel the opposite reaction.


    Entertainment Value;
    Midnattblod/Grumpy Croc
    Lord Yuan

    I'm battling between Midnatt and Grumpy here. Grumpy has more substance and also presents a completed start to finish story; whilst Midnatt presents one that is easy to read and flows off the page to the reader very easily. Yuan's has the most mystery, but at the same time the language use, for me, faulted it making it a less easy to engage with reader.


    Depth of Story;
    Grumpy Croc
    Midnattblod
    Lord Yuan

    Grumpy manages the most depth as is openly displayed to the reader. The others display hints (a common theme with short stories); but neither really expands upon those hints at the actual depth. They leave much to the reader to fill in and whilst not devoid of depth.

    Yuan I feel loses points here simply due to lack of character association; whilst Midnattblod loses some because of a lack of real character depth beyond the action presented.



    Overall:

    This is a short story competition and I would say that Midnatt and Yuan have both presented good introductions, but not really full stories. Grumpy I would say is the only one who has presented a work that is a full story in of itself; leaving the reader with questions at the end, but also sense of closure to the primary arch of the storyline.

    The others provide what I feel are solid introductions to longer stories; but are themselves a touch clipped at the ending - although I'd say Yuans does manage to present a good "make up your own ending" approach, whilst Midnatt's clearly intends to continue on at a latter date by the writer.



    Sorry I kind of wound up talking more than scoring. Each has its merits and its pitfalls although as an overall rank I'd say its:

    Grumpy
    Midnatt
    Yuan
    (Contest organizer’s note: since this judge didn’t provide scores I’m awarding the stories bonus points in the order he ranked them in: 3 for first place ranking, 2 for second place ranking and 1 for 3rd place ranking).


    Overall Score: 15 + 13 + 2 = 30
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
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  3. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    good to know what I need to work on for future SSC's. that is if we continue having them. I do know it was rushed and I'm a bit sour about that myself, I think I can definitely improve on most of it. I did have a whole scene for the end all worked out, but I guess I couldn't work it into how I wanted it to go.
     
  4. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    All the stories were fun to read and I sure hope we keep having these. They're fun, generate good content for TFF and help us all improve our writing skills. As long as people are willing to enter, I'm willing to run them. Thanks so much for entering. :)
     
  5. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    yes I definitely hope we'll have another next year. it was fun to write again, something I have difficulty getting going with what with work and other interests and whatnot. I might even try to spruce up this particular story and maybe post what I wanted to have at some point, just as something on my completed works thing.
     
  6. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Go for it!