Manga Helpers Art Contest #11-12 Magic Short StoryVoting Details: Voting will automatically close on May 27th 07.00 GMT You may only vote once and for up to 2 of the submissions. Announcement of winners will be done soon after voting closes. If you have any questions regarding voting, they can be addressed HERE. Entry #1: Magic Short Story - "The cruelty of mages" by zimbardo Frank shivered. The darkness was all encompassing, enveloping him in it's comforting embrace. This was the only place where Frank felt comfortable now. The light only brought torment. The light brought that man. Through the walls of his prison, the sounds of the baying crowd pressed in upon him. He knew what was coming next. A hand grasped around his neck, ripping him out of his inky enclosure, right into the blinding light, causing him to wince as his eyes adjusted to the change in brightness. BOOM His vision was filled with sparks, as the giant man waved a hand in front of Frank. Dark, thick, smoke billowed out of the man's long robes. Although he could hear their bellowing cries, nothing else could penetrate the heavy fug which trapped Frank together with this man. Had he not experienced the exact same thing before (and could he not hear the others), he could have imagined that he was alone with this lunatic. But alas no, although not a pleasant thought, it might somehow been better that way. Even had they not been screaming at him, Frank would have known that they were out there. They were always out there, awaiting his daily abuse. Waiting to revel in his misery. The man towered over Frank, inconceivably huge. He was dressed in a long flowing costume of many colours, which appeared to shimmer mysteriously. As if it wasn't sure what colour it really should be, so was attempting to be all of them at once. As the smoke begun to clear, 2 gigantic females gradually came into view. They were looking at the giant man, dramatically waving their hands around in the air. They gyrated and posed around the caped man, wearing outfits which barely covered their bodies (leaving the vast majority of their skin bare). The cries from the crowd becoming almost feverous with excitement. Frank wrinkled his nose from the lingering acrid smell of the smoke, then shivered again. Why did the man do this to him? Each and every night spent subjecting him to cruel tortures, before imprisoning him in a tiny cage to await the next evenings misery. Whatever mysterious rules the giant followed, they were certainly none which Frank could follow. The Tall man leaned down towards Frank, a sinister smile playing across his waxy features. He had a pencil thin moustache, which almost appeared to highlight his vicious canines. His eyes twinkled maniacally. Frank could not understand the way this man's mind worked. What could drive a being to such acts of wanton barbarity? To enslave and torture something, just for the entertainment of others. It was incomprehensible. Fiendish. Ruthless and without remorse. The crowd quieted and Frank tensed with anticipation, eyes widening with panic. Although he didn't know what would happen, each evening being somewhat different from the last, he understood that, whatever did happen, he would most certainly not enjoy it. The previous night he had been instantaneously transported far into the sky, left to plummet towards the ground. Then, just before his face had smashed into the ground, he had been frozen in place by invisible tendrils of spectral force. The night before that, he had almost been drowned, water appearing out from thin air, all around him. These were powers far beyond anything which Frank could fathom. No being should be able to do what this man could. Throughout his whole life, Frank had never seen anything even slightly comparable to the abilities this monster possessed. The giant man uttered some guttural sounds and blinding flashes, again, materialized in Frank's face, singeing his hair. Before Frank could react, 5 giant serpents instantly materialized around him. Their long tongues flicking out, tasting his panic, hissing with barely concealed glee at such an easy meal. With a loud cry of panic, Frank forced his eyes shut, lowered his head, and waited for the end. At least, this time, it would all be over. At least he hoped as much. Perhaps the giant would save him again, though Frank sincerely hoped not. Had he not done enough already? How many times had he been paraded out and abused in front of the leering crowd? How much fun could the giant be having, at his expense? Although snakes might not have been Frank's preferred way to leave this existence, at least it was a way to end his current cycle of misery. The end was finally in sight. A huge, deafening, BANG assaulted Frank's ears, then silence. He waited. Nothing happened. Was this the end? If so, it was hardly that bad. He'd have guessed that death, especially of the serpentine variety, would have been much less pleasant. Frank opened his eyes and looked around. He was back in his cage. It was over, for tonight at least. Frank hopped over towards the other rabbits and closed his eyes. He still didn't know why this was happening to him, 'magic' not really being something rabbits are known to partake in, but currently such thoughts were unimportant. Now he was home in his hutch. Now, for the rest of the evening at least, he could relax again. Entry #2: Magic Short Story - "A Secret Between Friends" by riki “Do you believe in magic?” I stared at Nathan incredulously. “Do you want to kiss me or something?” I blurted. My face burned a bright red at that thought. After all, we were the only two left at the creek; all of our friends had left to go to the movies, but we decided to swim a little bit longer. At the moment, we were taking a break and sitting on the bank. Now it was his turn to be embarrassed. “N-no! That wasn’t what I meant!” he sputtered, his face was red as a ripe tomato. He looked away and threw a pebble into the water. It skipped across the surface, sending ripples toward the center of the creek. “I just wonder if you think magic is real or not.” “Oh.” To be honest, I would be impressed if he did. Out of all my friends, Nathan is the quietest. He doesn’t say much, but he likes to hang out with us even though we are a boisterous bunch. Nevertheless, I don’t mind since it’s nice to have someone who just listens and doesn’t make comments or advices. “I dunno. Isn’t it obvious that magic isn’t real? I mean, it would be nice if it were true. Why?” Nathan didn’t answer at first as he skipped another rock into the water. He watched as the ripples expand and touched each other before he answered, “I can do magic, Carrie.” I gave him a strange look. Was he trying to pull my leg? “I don’t understand.” “I mean real magic. You know, like the ones from Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings.” Nathan scratched his head. “I know that it sounds strange so let me show you.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he raised his hand. “Just watch.” Sighing, I closed my mouth and did as he asked. I watched as Nathan placed his hands together palms up in front of his chest. His eyes focused on his hands, so I did the same. Nothing happened at first, and I was getting impatient waiting. I was about to give up when it happened. I don’t know how to describe it, but the air above his hands wavered. Soon, specks of colors emerged in the wavy air as they merged together. Before I could even blink, the colors burst out, revealing a daisy in his hands. Picking up the flower, Nathan then extended his gift toward me. “Here you go.” My mouth dropped. “H-how did you do that!?” I exclaimed. I gingerly reached out toward the daisy. Imagine my shock when I actually touched it. The flower was real. The white petals felt soft to the touch, and the stem was sturdy in my grip. “I don’t know,” he admitted, shrugging. “It just happened one day. I was hungry and thought it would be nice to have something to eat when a hamburger suddenly appeared in my hands. Ever since then, if I want something, all I have to do is think about it and then POOF! It shows up right in my hands.” “Does anyone else know about this?” I asked as I twirled the daisy in my hands. He shook his head. “No, no one else knows besides you.” He then added, “In fact, I want you to keep this a secret, Carrie.” “Why not?” I exclaimed. “Think about all of the miracles you can do! You can be the hero in this town!” “I just can’t. It just…” He paused for a moment before he continued, “I don’t want anyone to use me. Especially my mom.” As soon as he mentioned his mom, I immediately understood. Although none of our friends talked about it, we know about Nathan’s background from eavesdropping our parents’ conversations. Based on what we heard, his dad is a deadbeat while his mom would disappear to who-knows-where for several days (“Getting high,” my parents muttered, shaking their heads). It meant that he has to fend for himself, which is why he likes to spend a lot of time with us rather than going home. Knowing his mom, she would exploit his gift if she finds out. Not to mention, she would probably take him away from the only place he knows as home. Instead of answering him, I wondered, “But why me? You could have revealed this to anyone else.” Nathan blushed as he looked down at the water. “It's because you're not a blabber. Besides, you were the first one to befriend me, and you make me feel like I belong. Out of everyone I know, you’re the only one I can trust with my life.” He suddenly looked up at me and hold out his pinky. “So promise me you won’t tell anyone else about it. Okay?” He didn't have to ask me. After all, Nathan is one of my friends, and friends are supposed to have each other's back no matter what. I looked at him straight in the eyes and linked my pinky with his. “It’s a promise.” Entry #3: Magic Short Story - noname by DaePetersen 3. Just the number 3, unlike the number 4 but I was once just 3. With that being said I’m at the top lowest in my world. Having three is not as bad as having 4, though if you have 6, that’s consider too much, a waste some might say, if you have two, you’ll probably die, maybe even lose. Yet I think three is nice, one the left, one of the right, and one right here in the middle. Three of what you might say? Hearts. What else would I be talking about. I have three hearts, in which they all serve a purpose to me abnormal being, in which they gather together to continue my existence. Blood that run through my veins is the only thing that remains holy within my unholy self. Unholy? Yes I’m half demon and half angel? What else would I be? A human? Disgusting. Actually no. Interesting. Humans, they’re interesting. I find them interesting, I think of them to be intriguing , to the point where I fell in love with one of them. Yet it turned it to be horrible, I gave her other one of the three only for her to take it with her using it for no good. No good? Well she became a demon herself? What else should she have done with? She, my vessel, my love, is now my enemy, a being of no holy within her. A Bitch in simpler terms. Now here I sit on the stars, looking at the moon debating, wondering how’ll I get my heart back, though I want her back as well. Maybe I could go back in becoming just three again, or should I just stay at 2. Though I learned that in the human world, the phrase “you must gain your heart back” is an anthem for broken hearted people, though my heart isn’t broken. Its been stolen. Entry #4: Magic Short Story - "Darkness in the Snow" by Xadyu Snowflakes gently whirl darting on the wind, falling on the thick coat of snow that’s keeping the grass warm against the severe frost of the winter. The branches of the trees are colored white from one side. The wind had partly fallen, there’s only a tiny hint of a breeze, while the sun tries it’s best to bite through the clouds. Just a little bit more time, and the sky will be blue once again. DARKNESS IN THE SNOW As I trudge through the snow, my muscles are tense, ready for combat. It’s cold. Very cold. I stop in my tracks, and tighten my cape more, I can’t risk losing to much heat. I want to leave as few traces, as inconspicuous as possible, but after all those attempts of erasing my path, I realize it’s redundant. Too much time, too much energy, that’s the last things I have. After I come to a grip with that fact, I try to move on a bit faster, make up for lost time, but as soon as I gained tempo, I had to stop. Leaning against a tree, I come to the conclusion that my body is at it’s limit. Red drops fall in the white of snow. Color, so striking, in all that white. I grunt, as I put my hand on my side in an attempt to make the blood stiff, my cape opens. It’s useless. The wound is too deep. “Further”, I whisper to myself. “I have to get through this”. Getting upright and moving away from the tree cost more energy than I could’ve missed at that moment. Other whispers surrounded me, I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but I knew all too well I had too try and move faster. Trudging forward. Every step seemed more difficult, causing more pain in my side than I could imagine, my head became lighter and lighter, feeling as if I were to pass out. I’m not trying to think about what’s going to happen. I do not want to know anything about what happened in the past. “Focus”. “Focus on getting through this part.”. I’m on the run, I need to run. The details don’t matter now. Snow keeps pressing my hood further down, it rests heavily on my head, conflicting with the lightness I feel inside of it. I throw my hood back a bit to throw the snow off, unnecessary movement. It certainly doesn’t help with my tempo or my well-being. As I continue to move through the snow, I put my hood back on. Looking down I see the blood drops leaving a striking trace in the snow. There’s nothing I can do about it. I shrug, thinking back on all the useless effort I made to hide my earlier footprints. As I look up, I see smoke plumes rising in the distance. That there’s a village is something that’s vaguely getting through to me. Yet I know all to well that this is my salvation, this is where I need to go. Pain is causing my inability to think, but instinct takes over. Adrenaline is filling my body. I continued to skim through the snow, towards the glorious smoke in the distance. “You need to be looked after”, a voice sounded in my head. “My wound”, I said, as I grabbed it more tightly and walked past the last line of trees. I’m out of the forest, with nothing but an empty plain of land between me and the smoke I want to visit oh-so dearly. Whispers. Whispers. Whispers all round. I turn around to look at the forest, scared of what I might see. I see nothing, but the fear of the whispers is all to striking. I take a deep breath and decide to move on, quickly. The sun finally worked it’s way through the clouds, heating a small portion of my face that is not in the shadow of the hood. The warmth radiance was pleasing, and I decided to take my hood off. I pointed my face upwards, soaking in the rays of the sun, convincing myself I was restoring my energy. I took another deep breath. I let my hood off and struggled to get my walking pace back. The snow now clings to my hair, it feels cold and wet. But I do not mind. It keeps me awake. That’s the one downside of this sunshine, it’s a warmth I’ve longed for days now, it’s feels like a warm embrace of a mother, a warmth that’s pleasing to fall asleep to. A little house looms up in the distance, I can distinguish it’s door and windows from the walls, and see that there’s a little fence around it. Around the house it more empty plains, the smoke is further in the distance, in the actual village. Not that it matters, reaching this house is more than good enough. This is as far as I need to go. “Almost, I’m almost there. I can make it”, I say as I gaze upon the house, vaguely seeing a shape standing in the distance. Flashes shoot through my head, like the shadow is stabbing my brain, it makes the pain unbearable. I stop walking and start coughing, so hard I bend over and spit. Warm red blood mixes with the bright white snow. I bend down on my knees and put my hands in the snow for support. My body is going into shock, I don’t have much time left. I start to surrender again, “I need to go on!”, I encouraged myself. “I must persevere.”. I stand up, shaking like never before, when I look up it’s like I’m seeing two houses. The shape at the house slowly gets bigger. I take a step and lose my balance. The shape keeps getting closer. I open my mouth and try to ask for help, no sounds comes out. The shape gets very close, and instinctively reached to the sheath of the dagger that hangs on my waistbelt. I have a hold of the blade and the shape is only a few steps away from me, the moment I tighten my grip everything started spinning. I want to push back, but I fall to my right. Not having the strength to keep myself standing. The snow feels cold against my cheek. At the same time it feels like a soft pillow, fluffed for my eternal sleep. “Am I ready to accept my fate?”, I wondered. The grip on the dagger is weakening, and my vision is blurred. The shape is here. I can feel a warmth under my back, moving up to my neck, slowly stealing away the air from my lungs. It feels as if I’m drowning, as if I’m sinking through the snow and grasping for air. The bright white snow. And the black that takes possession of me. Entry #5: Magic Short Story - "One Girl's Grief" by Organizized In the garden of The House at the Top of the World sat Celia. Her uncle, the great magician, was off in the capital, performing for the royal family. This was his house, his garden, and although it was alive with bird song and blossoming cherry trees, the world had never seemed so lifeless. The garden was located above the clouds, yet Celia had never felt so low. She was sitting in the emerald grass, pretending to read her book, and ignoring the puppy. Celia was not a stupid girl (as grown-ups would irritably note when she helpfully corrected their grammar). She understood full well why her uncle had suddenly brought the mongrel home with him after his last trip. He had done his best to make it sound as if the dog needed her help; her company; her love, but she knew that in truth he was putting all his faith in the tiny creature to cheer Celia up, since he himself was no good at those things called “feelings”. Now he was being forced to cope with his own guilt, as well as Celia’s overwhelming sorrow. So he brought her things from his trips; wondrous toys, delicious sweets, and now a lovable pet, hoping it would bring a smile to her face. It did not. Celia had promised herself never to smile again, lest the world get the idea that maybe it had not treated her so terribly after all. It was not the puppy’s fault, but she disliked it all the same. “Go away”, she said without taking her eyes off the same word in the book she had been staring at for the last fifteen minutes. The puppy gave a little questioning half-bark, then rolled over on its back as if thinking it would finally get its long overdue stomach rub. “I don’t want you here. Shoo!” she told it, this time looking it in the eye. At this, the dog got to its feet and bobbed its head to the side a bit, wonderingly. “You can’t cheer me up”, Celia said, her voice beginning to crack. “You can’t cheer me up because my mother is dead and there’s no magic left in the world and she was a cat person anyway, so I won't - for a single second - let a dog make me forget she is gone!” She hid her face in the book, spoiling the pages with tears she had thought had run out many days ago. When she looked back up, the puppy had left. She sobbed, feeling even more abandoned than before. She wished she had not brought her mother into it. Celia's mother had actually loved all animals, not just cats. But she had been a witch. A witch cannot very well be a dog person. Of course, after her mother died Celia’s uncle had explained she had not been an actual witch, since such people “just do not exist, child”. He had been forced to tell her this because Celia had furiously screamed at him through her tears: “Why can’t you just magic her back to life? You bring inanimate objects to life all the time in your shows! Why not her!?” And that was when she found out the difference between “magic” and “illusion”. That the "House at the Top of the World" was so named only to add to her uncle’s mysterious flair, and was only built atop a high peak, not on a floating cloud. That his magical powers were all smoke and mirrors, tricks and diversions. That her mother had deceived her all her life; there was no such thing as real magic. Celia had been overwhelmed with grief over her mother's death, but it was being told all these things which had ultimately sucked the last traces of joy and childhood out of her. “Woof?” came a little yelp from behind her, and she spun around. The puppy sat a few feet away with a stick in its mouth. “I don’t want to play with you”, she told it, voice thick from crying. Ignoring her, the dog dropped the stick at her feet. “I said, I’m not playing with you!” she yelled more irritably and tossed the stick aside. The pup chased off after it, tail wagging frantically. Dogs were always so happy, and she could no longer stand nice, happy things. Her mother had always been so nice, and it had gotten her nowhere. She had out-magicked her own brother ten times over - he himself admitted he could never figure out how many of her tricks were done. But he was the better showman, the one people paid to see, so she happily became his assistant. Because she was nice. And it got her killed. If there was such a thing as justice, Celia’s uncle would be the one in the grave. If there was such a thing... The stick was once again dropped at Celia’s feet. A big pair of brown eyes looked up at her. “I’m not throwing that again”, Celia said. “Go away.” The puppy’s eyes stayed fixed on hers. “I said... go… away!” Celia said, picking up the stick and threateningly pointed it at the dog as she said it. With a sudden poof, the dog vanished. Celia stood gaping, staring at the spot where the puppy had stood. Her eyes traveled to the stick in her hand, which she now realized was not a stick at all. It was her mother’s old stage wand. She looked around, searching for the animal, but knew it was nowhere to be found. She looked at the wand again, feeling all of the grief and anger inside slowly turn into something new entirely. She smiled, a wicked smile. The world be damned.