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JacctheInsomniac

Forum Challenge - Koh, the Wildfire

Officials hadn’t bothered with an attempt to clear the pitch of snow before the initiate’s game had begun, figuring the bizarre training arrangement didn’t warrant a serious effort. The result was this… mayhem. The Hunter and Butcher initiates had abandoned any pretense at playing for the ball when the snows mixed with blood. This sickly concoction slicked the pitch in a red-pink slush that clung to the combatants from head to toe, dispelling any notion of control.

Theron watched one player intently as he navigated the particularly vicious game; an archer by the name of Koh, he and his tracking falcon worked in tandem with each other to tear down the largest players of the opposing team. In spite of his excellent situational awareness, Koh played the part of captain to the initiates poorly. The wordless commands to his falcon didn’t extend to the other Hunters. Without someone to rally their movements they were hopelessly outmatched against the ruthless and brutally drilled Butchers. Their rookie leader had clearly been given the rudiments of captaincy and marshaled them into a formation that drove into the Hunters’ lines as gracefully as his own jagged bludgeon. He’d already secured his share of takedowns against two small of stature hunters, nearly severing one of their arms in the process.

This was the same game that Koh excelled at Theron noted, watching as Koh's arrow cut through the winter winds to reach a butcher initiate's leg mid-stride. The skewered leg gave out beneath him, and the butcher went tumbling face first into the icy ground. Koh’s bloodthirst was unparalleled, even among the Butchers who had taken glee to turn the white snows scarlet. In truth it was troubling, thought Theron as the archer loosed another spiteful arrow into the downed butcher's body. From here it looked lethal, but the sawbones plied their trade in miracles.

Theron suspected that his behavior was the effect of long and bloody winters beneath the Moon Goddess’s grasp. Theron was now the only one to be relied on in matters of the Sun Father’s judgement. So he watched, wondering if the damage had been done... it looked grim. This cruelty was all that Koh knew. Arrow and claw tearing through flesh, crimson spilled amidst snow, winter’s savagery matched only by his own. He wasn’t lucky enough to be chosen by the Sun Father. He was meant to die clinging to his mother's frozen breast, and yet he simply refused. Bow in hand, the little hunter was determined to carve out his place by the Sun Father’s side, even as the Moon followers called him her child. Koh’s hatred kept him warm by burning away the lure of the Moon, yet this was not the Sun Father’s way. Inside summer’s embrace that anger would devour him, as the flame devours the forest. He was a capable hunter, but he was not taught to nurture, to provide, or to protect.

The horn of the game’s end blew, interrupting Theron’s thoughts. In the midst of its heavy note, an arrow splitting the air made no sound. Butcher victory. The kill that ended the game was claimed by none other than the Butcher’s rookie captain, burying his bludgeon into the skull of one of his previous takeouts as she returned to the pitch, still limping.

The triumphant butcher fell to the ground before the horn had even quieted. Blood filled his mouth as an arrow’s shaft stuck cleanly through his throat. No one but Theron saw the moment Koh had loosed the arrow, seen the intent behind his eyes; not to claim a victory but to murder the victor. Nevertheless, the guild would need to step in and defend his action. Claim that the arrow was released before the game’s end and struck its target after his victory. Theron shook his head as the surviving initiates returned.

“Koh,” Theron addressed the rookie quietly, before he had even completely left the pitch. Koh’s attention turned to Theron, unspeaking, unblinking.

“When you killed that butcher… the game was already over.”

Koh took an uneven breath and spoke, voice trembling with rage, "he killed our sister... while she was wounded and couldn’t defend herself.”

“That is our way. That is how the strong survive.”

Despite the final tone of Theron's reply, Koh lashed back, like wounded prey goring its predator, "if the strong are only capable of preying on the weak then what is it that makes them strong?"

He didn’t stay to hear Theron's reply. Within his voice, Theron could sense something he misjudged; a yearning for a place by the Sun. Something that had been warped beyond recognition by painful winters. Undoubtedly his hatred would consume him in time, but sometimes a Wildfire is what the sick forest needs to be reborn.

Figured it was time to post this and hopefully receive more targeted feedback. Many of the people I've had go over it aren't as familiar with GB's lore, so I haven't gotten major feedback regarding that element of it, and I'm always looking for ways to improve the overall flow of the writing. Please let me know what you think.

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Based on feedback I tried to improve the flow of the writing, parts were also de-emphasized and moved around in an attempt to improve the impact of particular scenes and remove redundancy, as well as add narrative consistency and conflict.

Koh - The Wildfire

Officials hadn’t bothered with an attempt to clear the pitch of snow before the initiate’s game had begun, figuring the bizarre training arrangement wasn’t deserving of a serious effort. Though the sun sat high above, the crisp chill of winter bit through Theron’s garb while he intently watched a player navigate the game; an archer by the name of Koh.

Koh displayed an excellent situational awareness, but played the part of captain to the initiates poorly. He didn’t bother coordinating his team, preferring instead to attack two centerline players in tandem with the enormous falcon that had taken a liking to him. The meathead captain, Carver, was keen to exploit a weakness in Koh’s formation, securing the first and only goal. His team seized the gained momentum, bringing down two of the more fragile Hunters, and their lines began to fall like a wound being pried open. From what Theron had heard, Carver was being groomed as a replacement for the Butcher’s lost striker, and had clearly been given the rudiments of captaincy.

Though the Hunters were able to recoup and ready the ball for a return goal, Carver was already marshalling his team to attack what remained of them. The Butcher initiates were as ruthless and brutally drilled as full fledged players, without someone to rally the Hunter’s movements they would be hopelessly outmatched.

Koh, indifferent to his falling team, released an arrow that cut through the winter winds to reach a Butcher’s leg mid-stride. The skewered leg gave out beneath him, and under the weight of his mounting wounds he crumpled into the hard ground. Not content, Koh loosed a last spiteful arrow into his mark ensuring he wouldn’t return to his feet.

Koh’s taste for violence was unparalleled, even against the Butchers, Theron noted. In truth it was troubling. The Champion was now the only one to be relied on in matters of the Sun Father’s judgment and he suspected that this behavior was the effect of unrelenting winters beneath the Moon Goddess’s grasp. In spite of Theron's own past he wondered if the damage had been done... it looked grim. This cruelty was all that Koh knew. Arrow and claw tearing through flesh, scarlet spilled amidst snows, the force of winter matched only by his own. He wasn’t born to the favor of the Sun’s light. Koh was meant to die as a babe, clinging to his mother's frozen breast, but he was determined to carve out his place at the Sun Father's side. He let hatred warm him and burn away the pull of the Moon Goddess, even as her followers called him child. Yet this was not the Sun Father’s way. He was a capable hunter, but he was never taught to nurture, to provide, or to protect. Inside summer’s embrace Koh's anger would devour him, like a flame through the forest.

Theron’s thoughts returned at once as the Butcher formation smashed into the Hunters and what remained of the game erupted into a tangle of screeching blades, and broken limbs. For their part, the Hunter initiates put up a hard fight. Immediately abandoning any pretense at playing for the ball due to the sudden mixture of snows and blood that clung to the combatants’ clothes, dispelling any notion of control. For a brief moment amidst the chaos Theron could make out Carver’s hoarse bellow, followed shortly by a sickening crunch and seemingly at once, the violence began to ebb. The blaring horn of the game’s end resonated discordantly with the eerie quiet of the scene that unfolded. All voices had fallen silent, stilled at the sight of a striker’s skull caved in by Carver’s bludgeon.

Before the horn had even begun to die, Carver’s hands shot to his neck, blood seeped through his fingers and he collapsed to the ground with a pained gurgle. An arrow stuck cleanly through his throat, and yet more blood began to pour from the wound that only widened as his red hands clawed at its shaft, desperately trying to draw breath.

No one but Theron saw the moment Koh had loosed the arrow, seen the intent behind his eyes; not to claim a victory but to murder the victor. Theron shook his head as the surviving initiates returned. This was not how a training match was supposed to end, the Hunter’s Guild would have to be prepared to weather the Butchers’ retaliation.

“Koh,” Theron addressed the rookie quietly. Koh’s attention turned to Theron.

“The game was already over," Theron's glare bored into Koh, there was no point in lying to the Sun's Champion.

Koh took an uneven breath and spoke, voice trembling with rage, "he killed our sister... while she was wounded and couldn’t defend herself.”

“That is our way. That is how only the strong survive.”

Despite the final tone of Theron's reply Koh lashed back, "if the strong are only capable of preying on the weak then what is it that makes them strong?" He didn’t stay to hear Theron’s reply.

As if to punctuate Koh’s point the falcon, Napi, perched beside the Champion and inquisitively cocked its head. The falcon was a herald of the Sun Father and had seen something in the young hunter everyone else had missed. Theron was beginning to understand what. There was something within Koh's voice that Theron had misjudged; a yearning for a place beside the Sun that had been warped beyond recognition by painful winters.

Undoubtedly Koh’s hatred would consume him in time, but sometimes a Wildfire is what the sick forest needs to be reborn.

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I'd say the edits you did have got a good flow even smoother, and it's a nice study of a conflicted character (techically two, since Theron is also reassessing things). 

You did use "whether" instead of "weather the retaliation" though :P

If I want to get picky, I'd maybe tweak Theron's dialogue a little - entirely personal taste, though. I can see Theron knowing that both of them are well aware of what he means if he just says "the game was already over", without specifying the action Koh took. And maybe throwing "that is also our way" in, to emphasise how they're not so different to the butchers. 

But those are tiny little things really, good job with it! I like characters with flaws to explore.

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Getting closer to final edits

 

Though the sun sat high above, the crisp chill of winter bit through Theron’s garb while he intently watched a player navigate the game. An archer by the name of Koh.

Koh displayed an excellent situational awareness, but played the part of captain to the initiates poorly. Rather than coordinate his team he immediately took to attacking two centerline players in tandem with the the enormous falcon, and Herald of the Sun Father, called Napi.

The Butcher captain, Carver, was keen to exploit the weakness in Koh’s formation to secure the first and, thus far, only goal. Pressing their advantage they managed to bring down two of the more fragile Hunters, whose lines began to fall like a wound being ripped open. From what Theron had heard Carver was being groomed as a replacement for the Butcher’s lost striker, he would be an adversary to watch closely.

Though the Hunters were able to recoup and ready the ball for a return goal Carver was already marshalling his team, preparing to finish them off. The Butcher initiates were as ruthless and brutally drilled as full fledged players, without someone to rally the Hunter’s movements they would be hopelessly outmatched.

Koh, indifferent to his falling team, released a barbed arrow that struck his target in his leg while he was preoccupied fending off Napi’s talons. The skewered leg gave out beneath him and gave Napi an opening to rake her claws across his face. Under the weight of his mounting wounds, feral gashes and crippling arrows that adorned him head to toe, he crumpled into the icy ground.

Koh’s taste for violence was unparalleled Theron noted, even against the Butchers. In truth it was troubling. Few would deny that he had been touched by the Moon Goddess, an inescapable result of long and dark winters beneath her grasp. The Champion thought bitterly to the man he had been before meeting the Scion, wondering if it might be too late for Koh... it looked grim. This cruelty was all that he knew. Arrow and talon tearing through flesh, scarlett spilled amidst snows. He wasn’t born to the favour of the Sun’s light, rather he was meant to die as a babe, clinging to his mother's frozen breast. He let his hatred keep him warm and burn away the call of the Moon Goddess. Theron couldn’t understand why the Sun Father had seen fit to send his herald to Koh. This was not the Sun Father’s way. He was a capable hunter, but he was never taught to nurture, to provide, or to protect. Inside summer’s embrace Koh's anger would devour him, like a flame through the forest.

Theron’s thoughts returned at once as the Butcher formation smashed into the Hunters and what remained of the game erupted into a tangle of screeching blades, and broken limbs. For their part, the Hunter initiates put up a hard fight. Immediately abandoning any pretense at playing for the ball due to the sudden mixture of snows and blood that clung to the combatants’ clothes, dispelling any notion of control. For a brief moment amidst the chaos Theron could make out Carver’s hoarse bellow, followed shortly by a sickening crunch and seemingly at once, the violence began to ebb. The blaring horn of the game’s end resonated discordantly with the eerie quiet of the scene that unfolded. All voices had fallen silent, stilled at the sight of a striker’s skull caved in by Carver’s bludgeon.

Before the horn had even begun to die, Carver’s hands shot to his neck, blood seeped through his fingers and he collapsed to the ground with a pained gurgle. An arrow stuck cleanly through his throat, and yet more blood began to pour from the wound that only widened as his red hands clawed at its shaft, desperately trying to draw breath.

No one but Theron saw the moment Koh had loosed the arrow, seen the intent behind his eyes; not to claim a victory but to murder the victor. Theron shook his head as the surviving initiates returned. This was not how a training match was supposed to end, the Hunter’s Guild would have to be prepared to weather the Butchers’ retaliation.

“Koh,” Theron addressed the rookie quietly. Koh’s attention turned to Theron.

“The game was already over," Theron's glare bored into Koh, there was no point in lying to the Sun's Champion.

Koh took an uneven breath and spoke, voice trembling with rage, "He killed our sister... while she was wounded and couldn’t defend herself.”

“That is our way. That is how only the strong survive.”

Despite the final tone of Theron's reply Koh lashed back, "If the strong are only capable of preying on the weak then what is it that makes them strong?" He didn’t stay to hear Theron’s reply.

As if to punctuate Koh’s point the falcon, Napi, perched beside the Champion and inquisitively cocked its head. Theron was beginning to understand. Though it had undeniably been warped by painful winters, there was something within Koh's voice that Theron had misjudged. A determination to carve out his place at the Sun Father’s side.

Undoubtedly Koh’s hatred would consume him in time, but sometimes a wildfire is what the sick forest needs to be reborn.

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