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Found 8 results

  1. Afternoon turned into evening as darkness crept over Aldebrecht. Only the swift dedicated efforts of the Lamplighters Guild would hold the darkness at bay. Preparations were underway for the Guild Ball team tryouts the following day. A lean Lamplighter, Naphtha made his way through the other Lampers as they prepared for the excitement to come. Naphtha had been making sure he was prepared for this and tomorrow he was going to become a Lamplighter footballer like his father. He left the guild house onto the city streets to get to his lamps. When he neared his section of town he saw a tall stocky figure, easily double his own size, ahead of him; Wick, his brother. Naphtha spent his whole life in Wick’s shadow, everything he set himself to Wick would find a way to do it better. Wick didn’t approve of Naphtha’s desire to join the team, even though or maybe because Wick himself was on the team. “Hello Nap.” Wick said loudly as he approached. Naphtha was not in the mood for being coy “Why are you here? Maybe try to talk me out of trying out?” Wick sighed “So you’re still mad that I worry for you. I simply don’t want to lose my brother the same way we lost our father” Naphtha stood defiantly “Don’t’ worry for me, I can protect myself and once I’m on the team I will be an excellent player, better than you even.” Wick shook his head “It’s not about who would be better, it’s about my kid brother not getting killed on the pitch. Or him being consumed with vengeance on our dad’s killer.” Naphtha tried to hide his surprise but wick picked up on it. “I know about your plan to kill Rage, I’d hate to see you waste your life on a foolish thing like that. Killing him won’t bring dad back.” “I know it won’t” Naphtha snapped at Wick “you don’t understand at all, but you’ll see tomorrow. Good night Wick.” Naphtha stormed away from Wick into the night to light his lamps. The morning was filled with grueling exercise. Sprinting the length of the pitch, passing drills, dodging attacks and making attacks of your own. The ball was heavier than expected and the attacks hit harder than expected. Several times Naphtha felt like quitting, the exhaustion from sprinting the pain from the fighting drills beat him down throughout the morning. Each time he hit the bottom and thought he couldn’t continue he thought of Wick always better, always telling him what to do. His anger rose pushed him through the pain and exhaustion. This went on all morning till coach called to them. “Take a breather rookies. You sorry bastards get the honor of playing against the Lamplighters Guild. If you survive that you might play with them next time.” The coach bellowed. Relieved Naphtha collapsed in the shade till game time. Naphtha made his way onto the pitch alongside the rookies and moved to midfield. The Lamplighters Guild jogged onto the opposite side of the pitch. He had seen them from the stands many times but they appeared very different now, more intimidating, this was the real test of the day. Rookies would receive the ball. Naphtha was to move the ball to the forwards and fend off attacks from Lampers. Wick was to kickoff. Seeing his brother brought back the anger of last night and the fights before, the anger that began long ago and roared out of control with his father’s murder. Wick kicked to the opposite side of the pitch, the rookie closest to it; Votive snatched the ball with a quick pass to Wax the rookie center fielder. The ball no sooner left his foot when Phosphor charged in and slammed him to the ground. Lampers captain, Burner, was bearing down on Wax, he’d frozen up after seeing Votive hit so hard. Naphtha sprinted to intercept Burner he managed to connect with him before he made it Wax who was still motionless. The hit pushed Burner off course buying Wax and Naphtha some time. Naphtha’s yell for Wax to pass the ball finally snapped him alert and he sent the ball flying at Naphtha. The pass went wide but he got into position to collect it. As he moved toward the Lamplighters goal looking for a striker to pass the ball to and saw none, Burner and Phosphor had moved on. He scanned the pitch as he sprinted but there was no one to pass to. Wick charging toward him seemingly not worried about his brother being hurt now. He swung out wide to the wing of the field to make his run to the goal while reaching into his pack. He grabbed his bottle of lamp oil and lit the plug in the top before throwing it onto the pitch between him and wick. It shattered when it struck the ground setting the oil alight as it sprayed in every direction stopping Wick in his tracks. Wick looked at him with sadness and anger, probably because his little brother beat him Naphtha thought. Still seeing no other team members standing he turned to sprint to the goal. As he turned there was a crack of pain spreading through his head he groggily finished the turn to see Snuffer swing his staff into Naphtha’s head one more time before the world went dark. Naphtha woke to the coach’s voice “kid, wake up”. Naphtha slowly came back to consciousness when his eyes finally focused he saw the Lamplighters players and some of the rookies around him. “If you're going to burn my pitch like that you damn well better score a goal, but I'd settle for dragging you arse past midfield! At least you lasted longer than any of the other rookies we have. We might be able to make a footballer out of you. Guess you’re in the minor leagues kid.” Naphtha looked at players around him, Wick was not there.
  2. The pig’s carcass hit the butcher’s block with a SLAM. Marrow’s eyes shot open. She had fallen asleep standing up. “Get your ‘ead on straight, girly. You may ‘ave been called up to the pitch last night but your arse is still a bloody butcher. The work won’t bloody do its bloody self, so get fuckin’ choppin’!” Every fiber of muscle in Marrow’s body hurt. She slowly stumbled to the table, retying her apron around her back. She stared at the corpse in front of her. The pig was still warm. It had been bled, but no one had taken the time to gut or skin the damned thing. Of course not, she scoffed. Why would they when the bloody rook’s here to take care of it. “Every job ‘as its dues,” her mother would have said. “Ain’t nothin’ so special ‘bout you as to make you skip payin’ yours.” She took a skinning knife from her belt and ran its edge along an oiled whetstone. The song of metal on stone filled the room, mixing with the low ringing in her ears. In the ringing she heard the crowd. She had never experienced anything like the roar of that crowd. Since she was a child she had gone to the games and sat in those stands. She had cheered herself hoarse for her team, the Butchers, but nothing, no Cup wins nor bitter defeats had prepared her for what it would be like on the pitch. The ground shook from the cheers. Her stomach was in her throat. She had never been more scared in her entire life. What did she think she was doing? She was an alternate’s back up’s replacement, barely even a rookie! But that night, the stars aligned. Her team needed her, and she was not about to let them down. Marrow cut in a circle around the pig’s anus, then used the bladed hook at the knife’s tip to slowly slice down the pig’s length, concentrating painstakingly on keeping her stiff hands steady. One slip of the razor-sharp blade could puncture an intestine and ruin the meat. She cut until her knife hit ribs, then reached in, and gently removed the offal. The heart, liver, and stomach she set aside, the rest she dropped unceremoniously into a large bucket. An intestine ruptured hitting the bucket and the room filled with a rank odor. Marrow gagged, willing her meager breakfast to stay in her stomach. The horrid stench hit her almost as hard as it had the night before. The action on the pitch was too fast and brutal for Marrow to follow. She had no idea how disorienting the real thing would be. A quick save from Tenderizer was the only thing that saved her from committing the grave sin of an own goal. The shame and embarrassment of what could have been still burned her cheeks. A few plays later and a chance to redeem herself was presented. Grey-haired Ox charged Graves, stripping the ball from the Mortician and knocking him down. Marrow was open and started running down the pitch. Ox kicked, placing the ball perfectly in her path before returning to his butchery. Marrow caught the ball and sprinted forward, but was hit by a solid wall of stench. She collapsed in a heap, the ball scattered away and was recovered by the Union striker, Mist. The stench got worse, and she lay on the ground retching while Mist effortlessly shot the ball past Tenderizer and into the Butcher’s goal, making the score ten to six. A shadow fell over her. Marrow looked up slowly. A giant stood above her, a wooden coffin raised high over his head. She rolled aside just in time as the pine box slammed into the ground next to her. Marrow shoved the noxious smelling bucket to the other side of the room. Distance helped a little, but she still felt sick. She pushed through and turned back to the carcass. She slid the blade in a circle around a foot and began slicing gently down one leg. A spasm ripped through her arm and her knife slipped, cutting deep. Blood from an undrained artery splashed across her face, still warm. She grinned, muscle pains forgotten. Marrow looked down in shock at her white-knuckled hands, her knives hilt deep in the striker’s stomach. Mist stared back at her, his haughty smirk replaced by a grimace of anguish. His blood dripped from her brow. Then she remembered. The ball! She glanced around and found it, just a few paces away. The rest of the Morticians were descending on her, she had to act now. She kicked her blades free and dodged away. She recovered the ball and sprinted as fast as she could. She was quickly surrounded, there was no way she could make it to the goal. With a whistle, Shank appeared from the wings. She saw a gap and kicked with every remaining ounce of strength. The ball sailed through the oncoming Morticians right to Shank. He leapt, and with a single deft movement, kicked the ball directly into the goal. The crowd went wild. A take out and an assist to win the game. Marrow had never been so proud in her life. A knock on the door shook Marrow from her memory. She turned, expecting the supervisor. Instead, she found herself face to face with the Captain himself, an ancient dog stood shadowlike next to him. He stared at her, wordlessly. “Captain! How can I help you, sir?” The young Captain looked down at the dog besides him. “After your performance I had my reservations about bringing you up, Rook. But Princess here convinced me otherwise.” He grinned at her. “Finish this pig and report to the practice field, Marrow.” He took a step forward and patted her shoulder with a wink. “Welcome to the Butchers. It’s going to get much worse from here.”
  3. Waiting for the Wheat Poppy to ripen. The match had just finished, Nim heads back to the farm. Her friends scattered, off around her, back to their homes or masters. Her head full of the delights of the game. The noise of the stands - the clamour and wail of it all. The blood on the grass. She runs through the fields, pulling her old pig skin out of its hiding place rolling it along at her feet as she tugs out her little harvesting hooks. She runs through the wheat and grass, ball at her feet and blades in her hands, whirling and weaving, the wheat the opposing team. Nim takes them out in sheaves. Running through the long grass and the wheat poppies. letting the seeds cling to her clothing, the ball raking a path - bending the uprights. The wheat bows to the ball the Poppies bend and wave - an adoring crowd as the ball sweeps them aside. Wheat twirling in tumbling heaps, the patterns of Nim's Harvest stretching out loops and weaves, an intricate braid. She runs in silence listening to her own heartbeat, hearing the way the blood beats loud as she changes pace, or jinks out to avoid an errant pebble or sends the ball scooting out wide and scurries after. Nim plays ball like she is dancing, quick turns, her arms flashing with silver crescents. Cutting the harvest, unaware she is being watched - someone is watching, waiting for her to be just old enough, but she doesn't notice. Right now she is running to the beat in her head the wail of the crowds, she is harvesting her crop in the pattern of the blood on the pitch.
  4. Forum Challenge - Wretch

    Stepping out from the shadows, Wretch squinted as she looked out over the pitch. It'd been months since she'd been brought up from the steps into the guild house and today was the first time she'd seen the sunlight. Her blinded eye stared pointlessly off to the side where the patrons were watching, hidden in the cool shade away from the blinding light in the Mortician's training pitch. Dressed in rags little better than the ones she had been found in, she filed into place behind the 'captain' of the match for her side, 9 other rookies around her, all looking for their big break. Black feathers fell out from the layers of dark rags as Wretch took up her position amongst the other nameless trainees. That had been the first thing that had been stripped from them. Names. Ideals. Goals. They meant nothing.Obedience to the guild was everything. Wretch turned her good eye to regard her opponents. Worm, Rat and Crow up front. Maggot and Slug behind. It wasn't an unusual line up considering things. They hadn't known each other well before they had joined, but all of the rookies had been told to keep an eye on their rivals. They had to – learning to spy and root out those disloyal to the guild was as much part of their training as anything. Wretch, however, had an advantage over all the others. With a shrill whistle the game started and wordlessly Wretch dashed forwards. Unlike the others she had little interest in the ball, instead she had targets. They hadn't been allowed to bring any equipment onto the pitch, but what her opponents didn't know was Wretch didn't need a thing. Rat was her target. He was her rival, even though he hadn't known it. The tall Valentian was slated as a replacement to Ghast, a position Wretch coveted for herself when the time came. But without the heavy club the man had become reliant on, Wretch knew this was her best chance. Around her, the game had gotten underway. Worm and Crow had begun chasing Creep after he'd retrieved the ball, beginning to weave through the brightly lit debris. The pitch was likely some old gravesite by Wretch's guess, some now unmarked grave where debris from a shattered mausoleum made for a tricky ground to pass or dribble the ball, a challenge intentionally imposed on the young Rookies. After all, if they could play in blinding light and poor footing they'd be in good stead for dealing with any of the lower league pitches. The ground was clearest towards the centre, funnelling all the new players towards one another... But Wretch skirted the edges, clearly looking for something. As she rounded the base of one of the former foundations, she caught a glimpse of sunlight reflecting off the floor. A crooked grin slipped across her lips as she picked up the shard of glass, wrapping one of her rags around what would serve as a grip. For a moment, she caught a glimpse of her own reflection and was reminded once again of why the crows in the Rookery had been her main companions for the last few months. Jagged scars covered the right side of her face, down past her jaw and across her throat. She'd been lucky to survive the attack, but even today the memory made her flinch. Slashing claws and snapping teeth that stole her voice so she couldn't even scream when the nightmares woke her... But Wretch shook her head, then tightened her grip and began dashing towards her target. Even without his weapon of choice, Rat had begun physically dominating the match. Tall and burly, with enough bulk to palm off most of the other underfed recruits. Each of the ten had been mentored at least in passing by a member of the team and Silence had put his all into making sure he would have the brawn when he needed it in the future. Rat had been fed well and treated far in excess of what the other recruits had received, making him the envy of the others. Wretch, on the other hand, had only the briefest of contact with her mentor – after all, someone as petty as Cosset saw little use in the savage, scrawny thing to the point where she'd almost forgotten about the Wretch entirely. It'd been on nothing but a whim that she'd even let the waif into the building, something about that one good eye appealing to some meaningless thought. Instead, Wretch had made it her business to know everything about her mentor she could. She listened. She watched. She learnt. And as she dashed up behind the oblivious Valentian and jumped onto his back, she put her learning into practice. The glass shiv buried itself into Rat's throat, a spray of arterial blood gushing out in a crimson arc. In the patrons box, an array of commotion took place, Silence shrieking in rage to Obulus as Cosset jumped out of her chair, a wide smile across her lips as she dashed to the edge of the box, captivated as Wretch shoved the basic shiv in and out over and over in a flurry of frenzied hatred. She would take everything from the hypocrites who had the world handed to them. And one day, those at the bottom of the pile would rise to the top, drowning the rest in blood.
  5. Never really done anything like this before, but I figured I could give it a shot. New Moon, the story of a Rookie under Theron's Hunter's in her first game as captain. I definitely appreciate any critiques or criticisms. Devana looked on as the Butchers descended upon her team. It was like lions descending on prey. For reasons unknown to her, Captain Theron had put her in charge of the Hunter's rookies for this skirmish game, and this was very different from the Fishermen's rookie team they played several weeks prior. She charged in, intent on stealing the ball from the opposing captain, Ribs, so called for his tendency to break them. She watched as her brother, Chase, whacked another Butcher in the kneecaps with his club, before spinning past him and making a break for Ribs as well. She shouldn't have been watching. She completely missed the fist coming from the other side, and it caught her square in the gut. Pain exploded in her eyes, and for a moment all she could sense was the interesting combination of blood in her mouth, pain in her chest, and grass in her nose. Cursing herself for the lapse in attention, she groaned, and thankfully whoever had sucker punched her moved on to someone else, but she wasn't down. She's only been on the ground a few seconds, but Ribs had even moved closer. She waited for just the right moment, then sprang at the boy, catching him by surprise. With some footwork that left him dizzy, she managed to steal the ball away, and make a break in a random direction. She looked for anyone who might be open, knowing she didn't have long before Ribs would be on top of her again. Chase was locked in a slugfest with another boy on the Butcher's team, and the rest of her team were too far on her side of the field to be of any help. So she ran. She didn't get far before she felt a presence coming up fast behind her. In an almost instinctual move, she stopped, pivoted on one foot, and jumped backwards, lifting the ball up with her leg. It slammed into Rib's face, and she used the slight spring of the ball to vault off of him. She made a graceful summersault in the air, twisting to land facing the Butcher's goalpost. Not pausing to see Ribs land, she heard the thud after several steps. Clear now, she felt amazing, and within seconds was close enough to score. With a solid kick, she slammed the ball into the Butcher's goalpost, and she took a moment to watch with pride as the score cards flipped over to show 4-0. She jogged back to the field, surveying her team's status. Two of her Hunters had been carried off, to one Butcher that looked like she had a broken leg. Chase was still dodging and weaving around the other boy, and Ribs was just beginning to stand up from her kick, a bruise already forming on his forehead. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as the Butcher's representative, Boiler, she thought, drop kick the ball out, over her head, and back onto the field, in the center, between Ribs and Chase. Ribs immediately broke into a sprint towards it, and Chase, likewise, disengaged from his opponent and ran for the ball. The two met in a flurry of fists and clubs, both trying to knock the other out for control of the ball. She ran to help out her brother, but was cut off by his earlier adversary. He eyed her with a cold grin, flipping a flat stick of metal over in his hand. Flatiron, his name was. She knew she didn't have long, Chase couldn't handle Ribs, even injured as he was from her kick. She ran straight at the boy. It caught him off guard, and she used the slight flinch to jump forwards, planting her hands on his shoulders. She vaulted over him, high into the air. This high in the air, she could see another of her Hunters coming from further down the field, a very young girl named Jaci. Devana pulled a small sling from her pocket, and, in midair, twisted to launch a rock at the ball between the two boys. It struck, knocking the ball out and away from the two, and towards Jaci. Ribs jumped after it, earning a club to the back of the head from Chase. Jaci met the ball, and began running down the field. Devana landed hard, and her chest complained from its earlier hit. She watched Jaci run downfield, but the girl was no match for Flatiron's speed. Ignoring her own pains, Devana began running, not towards Jaci, Chase could handle that, but towards the goal herself. She felt the ancient powers she had always known well up inside of her, and bracing for impact, released just as Flatiron swung his bar towards Jaci's head. In an instant, she felt the bar strike her, and she fell into the grass for the second time this game. She watched, as downfield, Jaci stumbled a bit from the disorientation of Devanna's moon blessing, but the girl was clear for the goal. Just before her vision went black, Devana saw Jaci kick their second goal. Then she smiled as everything went black. Her crazy plan had worked. It would be up to the rest of her team to finish it now. Across the field, a white haired girl sat in the bleachers and watched as Devanna shifted, then fell. She idly spun a snowball in the seat next to her, before the barest of smiles crept across her pale face, and she left, leaving the snowball to melt, and the game to finish. She'd seen what she needed.
  6. Second draft, Now with character motivation! Any feedback good or bad (especially bad?) would be helpful and appreciated! Naphtha, Lamplighter Rookie Afternoon turned into evening as darkness crept over Aldebrecht. Only the swift dedicated efforts of the Lamplighters Guild would hold the darkness at bay. Preparations were underway for the Guild Ball team tryouts the following day. A lean Lamplighter, Naphtha made his way through the other Lampers as they prepared for the excitement to come. Naphtha had been making sure he was prepared for this and tomorrow he was going to become a Lamplighter footballer like his father. He left the guild house onto the city streets to get to his lamps. When he neared his section of town he saw a tall stocky figure, easily double his own size, ahead of him; Wick, his brother. Naphtha spent his whole life in Wick’s shadow, everything he set himself to Wick would find a way to do it better. Wick didn’t approve of Naphtha’s desire to join the team, even though or maybe because Wick himself was on the team. “Hello Nap.” Wick said loudly as he approached. Naphtha was not in the mood for being coy “Why are you here? Maybe try to talk me out of trying out?” Wick sighed “So you’re still mad that I worry for you. I simply don’t want to lose my brother the same way we lost father” Naphtha stood defiantly “Don’t’ worry for me, I can protect myself and once I’m on the team I will be an excellent player, better than you even.” Wick shook his head “It’s not about who would be better, it’s about my kid brother not getting killed on the pitch. Or him being consumed with vengeance for father’s death.” Naphtha tried to hide his surprise but wick picked up on it. “I know about your plan to kill the man that killed our father, I’d hate to see you waste your life on a foolish thing like that. Killing him won’t bring father back.” “I know it won’t” Naphtha snapped at Wick “you don’t understand at all. Good night Wick.” Naphtha stormed away from Wick into the night to light his lamps. The morning was filled with grueling exercise. Sprinting the length of the pitch, passing drills, dodging attacks and making attacks of your own. The ball was heavier than expected and the attacks connected much harder than expected. Several times Naphtha felt like quitting, the exhaustion from sprinting the pain from the fighting drills beat him down throughout the morning. Each time he hit the bottom and thought he couldn’t go on he thought of Wick, and it made him angry. He used that anger to push through the pain and exhaustion. This went on all morning till coach called to them. “Take a breather rookies. You sorry bastards get the honor of playing against the Lamplighters Guild. If you survive that you might play with them next time.” The coach bellowed. Relieved Naphtha collapsed in the shade till game time. Naphtha made his way onto the pitch alongside the other rookies and moved to his midfielder position. The Lamplighters Guild jogged onto the Pitch across from the rookies, he had seen them from the stands many time but they appeared very different now for the first time in the tryouts Naphtha felt nervous, he felt a knot in his gut that made him long for the discomfort of the morning drills, this was the real test of the day. Rookies would receive the ball. Naphtha was to move the ball to the forwards or break up attacks from Lampers. Wick was to kickoff. Seeing his brother brought back the anger of last night and the fights before. Wick kicked to the opposite side of the pitch, the rookie closest to it; Votive snatched the ball with a quick pass to Wax the rookie center fielder. The ball no sooner left his foot when Phosphor charged in and slammed him to the ground. Lampers captain, Burner, was bearing down on Wax, he’d frozen up after seeing Votive hit so hard. Naphtha sprinted to intercept Burner he managed to connect with him before he made it Wax who was still motionless. The hit pushed Burner off course buying Wax and Naphtha some time. Naphtha’s yell for Wax to pass the ball finally snapped him alert and he sent the ball flying at Naphtha. The pass went wide but he was able to collect it. As he moved toward the Lamplighters goal looking for a striker to pass the ball to and saw none, Burner and Phosphor had moved on. He scanned the pitch as he sprinted but there was no one to pass to. Wick charging toward him seemingly not worried about his brother being hurt now. He swung out wide to the wing of the field to make his run to the goal while reaching into his pack. He grabbed his bottle of lamp oil and lit the plug in the top before throwing it onto the pitch between him and wick. It shattered when it struck the ground setting the oil alight as it sprayed in every direction slowing Wick enough for him to get away. Still seeing no other team members standing he turned to sprint to the goal. As he turned there was a crack as pain spread through his head he groggily finished the turn to see Snuffer swing his pole weapon Naphtha’s head one more time before the world went dark. Naphtha woke to the coach’s voice “kid, wake up”. Naphtha slowly came back to consciousness when his eyes finally focused he saw the Lamplighters players and some of the rookies around him. “If you're going to burn my pitch like that you damn well better score a goal, but I'd settle for dragging you arse past midfield! At least you lasted longer than any of the other rookies we have. We might be able to make a footballer out of you” coach looked down to see that Naphtha was still awake “Guess you’re in the minor leagues kid.”
  7. Forum Challenge - Making the Cut

    Just do it. Slit his throat. He's lying there, waiting. "No" she said. The man in the barber chair opened his eyes looking up at her, her thick black fringe sticking to her forehead, she was profusely sweating. "I-is everything alright?" He stuttered. Valerie just smiled, before sliding her straight edge back across his supple throat, then back down again, taking away the soap with it. She wiped the blade on the flannel over his shoulder, "DONE" she exclaimed; an odd tone of relief rang through her voice. What a waste of time. She left him in the chair, getting some cold water to drink in the back of shop- "cool and calm" she said to herself quietly, staring straight at the water settling down after her swig. "Cool and calm". "Valerie." Edge interrupted her thoughts, "its time, get your kit, we're about to kick off." Valerie nodded at Edge, "I'll be there shortly." The Barbers Guild team captain, nodded and replied, "good, don't want to lose our star so soon." He winked and left, laughing. What was so funny, she thought to herself- probably at what you did to that baker boy last week. She shook the voice from her head and walked back into the barber shop. The Barbers Guild were relatively new to the game of Guild Ball, but each district the guild was in, were trying players out for the main team. Valerie was the newest of this team, having only played one game, which she was reluctant to play in. She said she wouldn't play again after the incident but Edge had insisted she had to play one more game. One more game to impress the Longshanks. Edge had big plans for his team, really get the Barbers on the map, or as he would say "get a slice of the pie." Edge was the one who took her in when she had nowhere to go, he hadn't said he'd figured out where she'd come from, but Valerie thought he probably had guessed. Edge was different, the only person she'd met that she didn't have to stop her self from harming, she hadn't worked out why yet. There were quite a few people int he crowd, all Local to their region, but none Valerie knew, the rest of her team were waving and shouting to their friends and family. The opposing team were doing the same, members drawn in from the local Gardeners Guild. Gardening was a trade only the wealthy could afford, so it was obvious how they had special kits made up embroidered and clean. Valerie's kit wouldn't come clean. The stain of the baker boys blood still splattered up her sleeves. The Gardeners were all glaring at her, the Baker whose blood she was sporting was the cousin of the Gardeners team captain, so she thought he wouldn't be the most easy going in this game. The gardener captain was a tall man, white, styled hair, clean shaven with a little knick just below his chin. Clearly the sign he's started shaving his own face after last weeks game. Let's open that cut up "Stop it." She said to herself, "it's just a game, no one needs to get hurt." But someone will, either us, or them. Valerie hated to admit it, but she was right. The two captains shook hands and the Gardener whispered in Edges ear. Edge, a stocky man, bald head and a thick beard, turned round, his face white and ghost like. What he heard must have chilled him deeply. The score was in favour of the Gardeners and they were outnumbering the Barbers with 6 to 4, it was just Edge, Valerie, Soap, and old barber, a veteran of the century war and Tyson, Edge's pet chihuahua. A very small animal with a styled Mohawk between his ears. As He looked ridiculous, had little impact on the game, but he was very distracting and the crowd loved him. Whilst she was looking at the miniature dog, she saw him barking at Edge, who had two Gardeners laying into him. They stepped back as he collapsed, a pile of black cloth, beard and tattoos. She saw them laughing as time seemed to slow, and squaring up to Tyson, ready to attack the mascot. Tyson! "Don't worry Valerie, we've got this" she said reassuring the voice in her head. Valerie charged the two Gardeners before they could get too close to the dog, she slit the throats of the young one in one quick flurry with her straight edge. At the same time she grabbed the ponytail of the other and dragged him to the floor then started kicking his head, turning it to a bloody mush, glistening on the grounds. The crowd went silent, clearly in shock of this display of violence. She let out a deep breath, then slowly turned to the Gardener captain, his face whiter than Edge's was at the start of the match. Valerie wasn't in control now. She flicked her straight edge, cleaning it in an instant, she'd clearly done this before the Garner worried... "Her", Longshanks said to his hooded associate. "We want her in the Barbers Guild." "But, but she's uncontrollable, unhinged, unhealthy!" "She's perfect. She's fury, rage and beauty." The associate looked across the pitch at Valerie. Her thick black hair, messy and stuck to her face in a mix of blood, saliva and sweat. "Beauty?" He questioned, "are, are we looking at the same woman?" "Just picture it, the revenue. She'll draw them in for her beauty before the match, then keep them there with her displays of violence. Perfect to elevate this start up Guild to the big leagues." Longshanks started to laugh, the only sound in the crowd of people watching Valerie sat in the middle of the pitch, stroking Tyson, both of them covered in the Gardeners teams blood. "Calm and Cool. Calm and Cool." Valerie repeated over and over to herself and the little dog.
  8. So, the forum challenge inspired me. First, a couple of notes: - In my mind, the Astronomer's Guild has several related business interests beside tracking the stars. The have excellent navigators, the best cartographers and mathematicians in the Empire, and even dip their toes into fortune telling and stuff we'd classify as astrology in the real world. Game wise, these would be represented by control effects and luck-modifying abilities like Confidence. In the War, in addition to navigation, cartography, and logistics, the guild would also have had some folks able to do combat trigonometry* who would either be ridiculously good snipers or part of elite siege- and anti-siege-artillery teams with the Engineers. - "Seyfert" comes from "Seyfert Galaxy", which is a galaxy with a "small, intensely bright" center. I thought that sounded pretty Rookie-ish so I grabbed it. - If it were up to me, the Astronomers would have an Owl named Archimedes, or Arc for short. This references Watchmen's Nite Owl, and through it Disney's Sword in the Stone, and Arc could also be short for Arc-Second which is a measurement used in astronomy. I just couldn't work Arc into the story properly. - I wish Grange wasn't named Grange, because "Lagrange" would be a great Astronomer name. - "Corona" is intended to be one of the Astronomer's Captains. - Other astronomer-y names I like: Mote, Syzygy, Albedo, Apogee and Perigee, Nadir and Zenith, Nova, and Umbra. *TVTropes link; follow at your own peril. Anyways, here's draft one. Tell me what you think of it, and if you think there need to be any changes to improve it! Seyfert, Astronomer Savant Seyfert did his best work at night. To be sure, most of the Astronomer's Guild could say the same; the line of work did often require a view of the firmament, after all. But even those parts of his studies that did not require a direct view of the sky - the mathematics, the memorization of star charts and of maps of the Empire, even the card-reading he so struggled with - all came more naturally to him by the light of a candle or the full moon than by the glare of the Sun. And so it was with this assignment. Mistress Corona had gently "suggested" that he should try for her Guild Ball team. He wasn't quite sure why. Compared to the brutes he'd seen running the field at the few games he'd attended, Seyfert was waif. He'd put up as much resistance to them as a leaf does a river. So here he sat, in the middle of a shadowed courtyard, staring intently at a ball illuminated only by the scant, powdery light of the moon. He studied its seams and stitches, as if he could divine some shred of skill from it like a crystal ball. Just as with the cards, no answer was forthcoming. He threw the ball away with a scoff, and as it bounced across the cobblestones he let himself fall back, arms spread-eagle. The sky above him was painted with stars. It was a perfect night for viewing. This was what Seyfert lived for, the dance of the stars in the night sky. Even if he weren't here "practicing", he'd have been out well into the morning recording their paths. The "Song of the Spheres", Corona called it. Seyfert glanced at the ball where it had come to rest. How could something so crude be worth the Guild's attention? He got up to fetch his equipment from his quarters - he couldn't let the night's sky go to waste, he rationalized to himself. The ball sat forgotten. --- Seyfert cursed at himself under his breath as he rubbed his eyes. Why were the tryouts being held so early in the morning? He'd have thought, with their nocturnal line of work, the Guild's officials wouldn't be any more keen on mornings than himself. Perhaps the higher echelons of the Guild were too busy with their politicking and maneuvering to make observations themselves. Regardless, he sat on a bench outside of an interior court, waiting his turn to be judged. He'd hate to disappoint Corona, but he expected failure would be his lot. The sooner this was over, the sooner he could return to The Song. Every few minutes, the door to the room would open and a consul would beckon another candidate in, and few more later the prospective player would leave, downcast or angry, begging for another chance or fuming. No one seemed to leave pleased. All for the better, Seyfert thought; he wouldn't have to feign disinterest or disappointment, then. Finally, nearly nodding off, Seyfert was called into the court. Inside it was a dome, thick metal ribbing criss-crossing seemingly randomly, each arc holding a stylized moon or sun or star. The consul handed him a ball, and explained to him the test; he had ten minutes to find the goalpost and hit it with the ball from the center of the court. No more. The consul returned to the door and pulled a few levers in a console set into the wall. With the last, the floor of the court seemed to rumble; the bands along the wall began to move as the floor slowly rotated. It wasn't just a court - the room was a functioning mechanical orrery. It must have cost a fortune to commission from the Engineer's Guild. At first, he couldn't see a goal to kick for, but after a few moments of searching he found it - a small brass disc polished to a mirror finish was the only plate in the whole room that wasn't ornately decorated. It orbited slowly, constantly obscured by the motions of the other rings. As he followed it, Seyfert kept expecting it to reveal itself in its fullness so he could finally take a shot, but without fail another would intercept its path and prevent his shot. Seyfert scowled and looked at the ball at his feet. Once again he was struck with how unimportant it seemed, how crude it was compared to beautiful motion of the night sky, or even the facsimile cranking away around him. All of this was pointless compared to the Song of the Spheres. Seyfert started with a sudden realization; wasn't a ball just a sphere? Perhaps it was ridiculous, comical even, to put it in those terms, but already it had him looking to the walls with a new perspective. He could now see the rhythm of the orrery, the patterns in the orbits of the stars and the paths the arcs took. His head jerked to the side - there, that was where the arcs would part and reveal the goal, even if just for a moment. He looked down at the ball, calculations running in his head, estimating when the goal would show itself, how hard and how far he needed to kick the goal, accounting for the rotation of the floor. He took a breath, then kicked. The ball flew in a gorgeous parabola, its path like that of a star in the sky sped up to last seconds instead of hours. Seyfert's heart began to sink as he saw the spot he had aimed for was still blocked - maybe he was wrong, and he would leave the court disappointed. But at the last moment the arcs parted, and with a sound like a gong his shot struck home. Seyfert collapsed to the floor as the room ground to a halt, laughing giddily under his breath. Maybe there was something to Guild Ball after all.
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