Voting MangaHelpers Art Contest #19-20: Freestyle Short Story

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  • Raven

  • TrienDarkform

  • James Rye

  • SonOfDaws


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MarmaladeSky

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MangaHelpers Art Contest: Freestyle Short Story
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Entry #1:"Turning point" a short story by @Raven

Introduction


In a warfare, A coward warrior was forced to battle, He can't even raise his sword and what all in his mind is running away but he knows he can't do that because battlefield desertion bears the same consequences as getting stabbed in the heart..death.. Under a pile of corpses he finds his sanctuary and from there he watched....waiting.... for the inevitable, His fellows are butchered like cattle by razor sharp swords, and their skulls are getting pierced by hurricane of arrows, however, they are fighting ferociously and fear no death while he is quivering in fear and hiding. On many occasions he gets like a boost of self confidence when he sees his allies doing good but In his heart he always felt this battle is lost so this boost only lasts for a few seconds and ain't enough to get him up.

Chapter I

Days comes and goes but the war still raging and the stench of death is only getting stronger and it's only terminates any confidence left in him to wield the sword, At night the warriors retreat to their camps and repose until the break of dawn, Getting prepared and waiting for orders and plans to start fighting again through the day. The coward warrior was retreating with the rest of the army to the camp and everytime he sneak under some corpses to protect himself and so on and so forth. At the end of one day, The coward warrior was trying to free himself from under the corpses but this time he sensed an abnormal movement within them, A wounded knight was still alive, He panicked and tried to run away but the knight clutched on his leg, He repeatedly stomped the knight's forearm to let loose of his leg and to catch up with the army, The coward warrior felt insecure and was very scared from this knight, He was haunted by the idea of the knight eventually get on their feet and expose him, He couldn't bear the thought of getting exposed and went back to finish off the knight once and for all.

Anger...desperation...frustration.. Mixture of said feelings drove him crazy, The coward warrior is now returning to the place of the wounded knight with murderous haste willing to take away their life, Upon the arrival, He finds the knight still laying on the ground unable to move. He could even hear their agonal breathing from a distance, He got relieved for a second, but he still have a murderous intentions. The knight feels someone is near and tries to gather enough strength to get his attention. " h-h-h-e-l-l-p " cried the knight, The coward warrior is shocked by the knight's voice, it has a high pitch sound, "could it be a female" he asked himself, The coward warrior hurried and removed the knight's helmet. "A WOMEN" he screamed.. The coward warrior felt depressed and ashamed, How could be a women have more courage and resolve than him, He reconsidered his actions and realized how pathetic he is, He confessed to the knight everything out of desperation but the knight fell unconsciousness, The coward warrior carried her all the way back to the camp and there they started treating her wounds.

Chapter II

The following day, The coward warrior is no longer a coward, He surprisingly fought in the front lines with dead heart and it appeared like he sought death, Maybe because he felt worthless or maybe because he thought once the knight wake up she would tell the commander everything and therefore getting him executed. Regardless of what he felt, His doings were spread like wildfire among the fighters and everyone had a good impression about him. At the night of this day, The female knight woke up and started to walk again, when she was checking on the reports of today's battle from her rally, She heard rumors about this badass warrior who fought like there is no tomorrow and caused a serious loss to the enemy forces, She asked them to lead her to that warrior but they struggled to know his name.

In the mean time, The grand commander called all the army to assemble and asked them to vote for someone who is worthy enough to be a knight commander, Everyone was searching for that unknown warrior but finally they found him sleeping and sent him to the grand commander's tent as their candidate, The grand commander asked the candidate, "Whats your name, warrior", He replied " Ryker". The grand commander sent Ryker outside to a high platform where everyone can see him. Ryker thought that he will be killed infront of everyone and his death would be exemplified as a scapegoat, The grand commander came out of the tent with his sword out and approached Ryker, Ryker kneeled as the grand commander raised his sword, Ryker closed his eyes...and waited the strike..... " I bestow upon you the title of knight commander " said the grand commander.. Everyone clapped their hands and whistled including the female knight., while Ryker rubbing his eyes to make sure he isn't dreaming.

Chapter III

The next dawn, The grand commander gathered all the knight commanders including the female knight and Ryker, He got news from his scout men, The enemy's rear side is totally weak and the archers aren't defended, and would make an easy target so he the grand commander's plan is to take his knights and flank the enemy with cavalry to turn the tide of the battle while the rest of the army push from the front since they will eliminate the archers from the rear, He assigned Ryker among the knights that will accompany him but the female knight stepped in and told the grand commander that Ryker isn't experienced enough in riding horses and lack training for such mission, She offered to take his place, Despite her wounds is still not recovered, He accepted. Ryker showed a sign of relief because he wasn't sure if he is good enough to handle this task.

It's now morning and everyone is in their position, The knights went with their commander and left the rest of the army in hands of Rykar, Rykar lead the army to the battlefield but upon arrival he was welcomed by hail or arrows from above, The enemy archers are in the front not in the rear while the swordsmen are protecting them, Cavalry are their counter but the grand commander took them to the rear hence they have no counter and suffered heavy losses and it forced Rykar to retreat back to the camp ,meanwhile, The cavalry team lead by the commander was ambushed by spear men which result in total inhalation of the cavalry forces. Rykar and the rest of the army waited in their stronghold for their commander and elites but there were no survivors but the female knight.

Chapter IV

The female knight is now in charge of the army and she is very angry and wants to lead an army to face the enemy again, Rykar went to her tent and told her that surrender is the best option but she called him a coward and not worthy of being a knight and she dismissed him from the army and told everyone about his secret of hiding under corpses and playing dead, Now everyone got a change of heart and treated him like shit, They are ready to kill him but she the grand commander ordered to let him go.. " You saved me once... so i will let you go today... Go and live with your shame..... You deserve no fast death.. You deserve a prolonged suffering"...

Little did she know, Rykar packed up and left the stronghold with a big smile and being proud of himself and not broken like she expected, He joined the warfare as a weak man and left as a strong man. He learned alot about himself and got huge self confidences and new experience that will serve him good in the future, He wasn't really sad about what happened, He remembered the good times when performed well in battle and got promoted in return, Also leading entire army and saving as much lives as possible that day.

The end.


Entry #2:
Short Story, Freestyle: "The Big Picture", by Trien.(@TrienDarkform)



How did it end up going so wrong?

The Wanderer Dragon gazed back at the village, as he winged away from the now smouldering ruins. It had all seemed be working out, so he had left surreptitiously to find a meal suited to his draconic constitution, only to return to this scene of burnt-up desolation.

He needed some time alone to think.

He flew north for a few days, to a land where winter's arrival had blanketed the land in white. Looking for a place where he would be undisturbed, his mind suddenly sensed another presence.

A dragon! the flash of warning went through his mind, and he hastily sought the source of the presence, looking to evade whoever it was. He was not well received by many of his kin, ever since he chose to involve himself with humans.

Yet the presence sought him out, and he heard a voice intone in his mind, “Hello, little one. I had hoped to find you this way. Would you mind talking? Over here.” Seeking out the voice, he was startled to find a massive snow-covered form, many times his own in size. Who is this? It was not a voice he recognized.

“Ahh, but I am remiss, to give such an invitation without introduction. You may know of me as The Ancient Hermit,” came the reply to the unvoiced question.

Ancient Hermit? That was a name heard of only in stories, of an eccentric dragon who had long ago flown off on his own, with very infrequent contact in the intervening millenia. Wanderer set down beside the snow-covered head, a mound the size of his own body, and looked warily at the eyes peering out from it. Nay, not just snow-covered, but frozen over and encased in the products of winter. Ancient Hermit must have laid there before the first snow, and now was hardly noticeable to anyone not looking.

“What are you doing here?” asked Wanderer.

“Watching,” came the enigmatic reply. “Something you need to learn to do,” came the addendum. Speaking in riddles was a common draconic trait, but Ancient Hermit's reply was more vague than it was puzzling.

The question must have shown on Wanderer's face. Ancient Hermit continued, “Ahh, but you are young, and have spent much of your life with humans. They are short sighted, often thinking only of themselves, and even when not, never considering the effects of the smallest decisions over the next year, or decade, let alone the next generation and further beyond. Truly told, I don't know if they have it in them, though your old friend wasn't too bad at it.”

Hearing the old draconic prejudice briefly angered Wanderer, though it was immediately replaced by a pang of sorrow with the mention of his old companion.

“You knew my old Master?” asked Wanderer.

A low rumble shook the ground, as Ancient Hermit chuckled. “Old Master, you say? She must have meant much to you, to call a human by that. Yes, I knew her, when she was but an abandoned child. Did she never tell you any of where she came from?”

A sense of wonder washed over Wanderer. “So it was you who taught her? But she said that dragon had lived with humans, and I never quite believed that. Is that what you have been doing all this time, that nobody ever knew about? What--? How--?” Wanderer was at a loss for words.

“Little one, you cannot really learn of them without spending the time with them, and I applaud you for choosing to do something, unlike our indifferent kin. But never neglect to consider everything else. What you don't see, or may have neglected to see. And as much as I can tell you to be vigilant, sometimes understanding can only come with the years of experience and,” a pause, “life.”

A tone of regret seemed to linger in Ancient Hermit's voice, as he made that last pronouncement. Wanderer could only stare at him, thinking back to the village.

“Come, let me teach you something,” Ancient Dragon broke his head free of the ice, scattering frozen debris and snow, causing Wanderer to duck out of the way. “While we may have an instinctual affinity for handling matter and the elements, few have figured out how to actually apply that to themselves. Let me show you the art of the shapeshift--”


Entry #3:By my own right and hand by @James Rye

His finger ran across the black object on the table before him. The cool touch of the obsidian dagger with its many runes send shivers down his spine. A tool far older than he was, gone through thousands of hands, committing countless rituals in the names of both the old and new gods. His finger reached one of those holy runes and found the mark he had carved himself, perverting its true nature for the sake of his own despair. The rough scratch cut through his white skin, leaving tiny blood droplets on the rune. He licked his wound, wondering how he had come to this point of his life. Never in his 62 037 years long existence he could have imagined a moment like this and just like any Elf, he was aware when his day of natural death was due. But death could come, oh, so much sooner than expected.

On three more tables of stone, adorned with various sigils of times long past laid three more bodies - two women and a man. Only one woman was breathing slowly, in deep sleep due his own spell. He felt a bang of guilt, but his consciousness was so numb of the pain that he shook it off easily. He was the Phoenix Emperor. It was his fault they had died for he allowed their foolish journey into the Goblin realms of mankind. If he had kept them in the Sacred Land, his family would not have been murdered by their treacherous Ald brethren. By his own right, he will undo his mistake tonight.

He took the dagger in his hand, an incantation leaving his lips, spoken in a language not used since the founding of the Phoenix Empire over 12 million years ago. The runes, he had drawn on the floor, started to glow in many colors. A wave of his dagger-free hand broke the spell on the sleeping elf. Large purple eyes opened quickly, looking left and right before setting on him. Fear housed those beautiful orbs.
"Wait, broth-"
The dagger ended her plea before she could even start. The gash on her throat was thin but deep. With a morbid fascination the emperor watched his little sister die in agony, desperately squirming against the ropes he had tied her limbs with. As the high priestess of the goddess of life she could have healed such a wound with a single touch of her hands, but alas, she couldn't and drowned in her own blood in a hidden room of the rising phoenix court.

He would have preferred to kill her in her sleep but this ritual called for the sacrifice to be aware of its fate before it died. And every Elf knew the soul leaves the body through the mouth, so he couldn't gag her if he didn't wanted to miss this instant. A snap of his finger called forth a dozen magical chains from the ceiling, catching the tiny soul that shot through the bloodied mouth like a hummingbird. It was tiny, blue and white with golden spots dancing in-between. His sister had lived a pure and good life. Just perfect for his intent.

His incantation came to an end. The soul seemed to implode, being used as a key to a realm out of reach for any mortal. Then the room exploded into an ecstasy of red and gold. A giant eye filled the room, its golden iris and red pupil staring at the emperor, waiting to hear the wishes of this insignificant being.
"Give them back."
Two souls left through the red pupil. Blue and white like any soul but with green and red stains in them. The giant eye disappeared, leaving the room in darkness. The souls made their ways to the bodies which had once been their homes. They entered through the mouths and the emperor hold his own breath as his sharp Elven ears picked up the thumbs of heartbeats and the intake of breath in once dead bodies.

Tears ran down his cheeks as he saw his beloved wife and son rose from their stony beds. He spread his arms to welcome them into a deep hug as they shambled towards him, their eyes glowing green and red. Never before had he felt this much happiness in his long life.
And he continued to feel happy as the teeth and fingers of his family ripped his flesh apart. The 1274th Emperor died, giving birth to the 2nd Lich King, himself.

But this time, the World wasn't prepared.


Entry #4: A small voice of Concern by Dawson C. B. (@SonOfDaws)
As Ayato made his way to the war room, he paid careful attention to the absence of his troops’ liveliness that usually characterized the otherwise modest base. It was his first time being at one of these higher council meetings or even meeting Lord Ilyich beyond the recent promotion, but his mind and accompanying anxiety was too preoccupied with how disheartened the troops were with the Bell situation.

Upon the news reaching him in the middle of the last operation out on the battlefield, he could visibly see the news as it moved through the ranks by watching the wave of shock, dismay, and worried glances at him that followed. In response to seeing this mid-mission distraction, Ayato, in the politest manner he thought befitting of his new status as a colonel, told them to form up and shut up. He had done this in part to get them through the mission and in part just to get rid of the dissent so things could go on in peace. While successfully in his endeavor, it was at the cost of morale.

Despite the betrayal, Ayato was actually concerned about Bell too, but he didn’t say any of this, of course. The colonel believed such emotions and vocalizations had no place when waging war. Still, this did little to quell anyone’s concerns about Bell or his own concerns about those he had silenced. Besides, what if doing so validated their feelings, drew more undue attention to Bell’s crime, and encouraged more people to go rogue as well?

Thoughts of proof of his incompetence preoccupied him. With how beloved Bell is and how unremarkable he is in comparison, perhaps as many as half of his squads would just leave and the other half lost in battle on the next mission. Losing an entire regiment within a week of being put in charge would certainly be an interesting addition to his resume. If things got that bad though, he figured he could at least amuse himself by asking Lord Ilyich if he had any spare troops he could lend him. If for some reason he wasn’t executed on the spot for asking, then he could simply do the honors himself later. It’s a win-win.

His silent musings on his walk were put on hold upon Jeremiah interrupting him.
“Sir Ayato, sir! Bell still hasn’t returned... P-please, permit me to begin a search and retrieval,” Jeremiah hesitantly exclaimed.
“I’ve never put you two together on a squad together, but I know of your friendship and anticipated your eagerness,” Ayato started. “Bell was a great solider and her loss will be felt.”
“But?...”
“But, I cannot permit that now,” the colonel said sternly.
“But sir, surely the cause she left for was a noble one.”
“Her dropping everything to take care of those orphans of war may have nobility in it, but it also could have potentially led to the deaths of many comrades and she’s no longer here to fight without prejudice to protect far greater numbers of humans than a dozen orphans. She’s a deserter. No way around it. Until we’re ready to deal with the matter, get your mind off the subject with some training.”

In truth, deserters or not, Ayato wanted to personally make sure his troops were accounted for, but he’ll have a better idea how to proceed after the war council. He didn’t say any of this, of course. He also deemed such emotion and hesitancy unnecessary between soldiers and their commanding officers. Instead, he allowed Jeremiah to leave dejected.

Shortly after, Ayato arrived, pushed open the heavy, oversized double doors and was welcomed to the keep by General Rein. The pair proceeded up the many stairs further into the grandiose building together. As per usual, Rein’s greeting was followed by much casual talk as he was one of the soldiers close enough in rank for her to feel comfortable casually talking with, but the relaxed air eventually abruptly ceased:
“Ayato, just remember,” Rein started fixing her piercing gaze on him. “This is your first audience with Lord Ilyich and will be there under my name. Your victories and acclaim got you here and you remind me of Lord Ilyich himself so I don’t have much worry for what you might do. Still, respect should be your utmost concern. Only observing and voicing respect. No matter the situation in the ranks.”
Ayato understood the allusion to be no matter what Bell or whoever did, shut up about it.
“I’m simply focused on getting information,” he replied, “and doing what’s best for my people.”
Unknown to even Rayne, Ayato was referring to both his troops and humanity as a whole. Having only been given the abilities of the now world-dominating race of meta-human recently and not being a natural born meta-human like most, Ayato knew of the atrocities the king dished out to humans far more intimately than most fellow rebels and this lit a quiet flame in his heart.
“Your men are my men,” Rein reminded him, “but even so. Nothing but respect.”
He went on unfazed.

However, when the pair finally arrived at the war room, the grandiose nature of the room, the unfamiliar faces, and the up-close gravitas of the man leading a revolution finally reminded him of the anxiety he had regarding this meeting. The wave of unease that washed over him may have been even greater if Ilyich wasn’t distracted finishing up a joyous conversation and a meal with the unfamiliar, older people in suits sat at his end of the table. From what was gleamed, the anxious man managed to gleam that they might be some business associates of Ilyich’s. He didn’t dwell on this for long as he couldn’t help, but look on at the various human artifacts on the polished stone walls and feel a sense of pride. With the ornate blades, shields, and war masks, Ayato marveled at the amount of sheer time, money, and effort it must have taken to obtain and preserve such human treasures and he was glad someone was doing it even if the spectacle only added to his unease.

After cautiously bowing and exchanging pleasantries, the pair took their seats as far from Ilyich as possible. When General Alexander and his right hand man arrived, the laidback, confident personal Alexander exuded typically melted away as he entered the room and eventually came back a bit once he was seated with Rein on the far side of the table. The meeting could then begin.

Ilyich’s associates and Ayato carefully studied the generals give their views on events one at a time. Though he made great efforts to carefully cushion and pad anything particularly unfavorable to Ilyich or what he’s said prior, but he otherwise gave a characteristically relaxed yet proficient recap on events. The associates watched judgmentally and occasionally whispered to one another and Ayato carefully watched them do so.

When the time came for Rein to speak, she made her care for her work apparent and Ayato’s was reminded of his admiration for her, but something bothered him. Ilyich interrupts her carefully planned out speech with a subdued yet articulate voice:
“Since your last battle, I’ve heard whispers of dissent and desertion. What is this about? Why has your soldier strayed?”
“Ah, yes,” Rein said quietly “I was getting to that...” She then began to explain the situation in a manner as to belittle the impact of Bell’s actions on Ilyich’s forces.
“Ahhh Bell, what a fine star to have fallen...” Lord Ilyich lamented. “If only she saw her purpose clearly.-- No matter. The situation will be dealt with. Please, continue.”
Though it seemed normal to all others, Ayato was thrown off as the exchange seemed rather callous.

It was as if nobody had paid his thoughts much mind at all. He didn’t want anyone dealing with his troops, didn’t have enough info to ease his mind or the minds of those under him worry about the girl who’s barely a teenager, and didn’t like the idea of a majority concern of his people seemingly being brushed off. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to speak up upon hearing the exchange. Doing might put himself in the spotlight, might put him in bad standing with the powerful people he was just meeting (Lord Ilyich included), and would potentially go against the words of two of the people he revered the most in his new home. All he could do was feel his heart churn between anxiety, indignation, and a sense of unfulfilled obligation to his people, including himself.

So, the meeting carried on with the outranked and flustered colonel almost settling in his quiet resignation until he raised his head again and looked to Ilyich’s associates and felt that once quiet flame well up and urge him to speak:
“Lord Ilyich, if I may speak,” the man started. The tension became palpable and a twinge of anxiety visible in almost everyone in the room, all but Ilyich who looked upon him expressionlessly.
“You may,” the lord stated plainly.
Ayato felt the gazes of all in the room on him and his heart trying to beat out his chest. For Rein’s sake, he summoned what was left of his composure and continued. “Prior to last mission, Bell served under me and ultimately to you faithfully, without incident, and with much acclaim from her fellows. Her loss will be felt, surely there is none who have served under me who have felt no fear of repercussions or would like to go unaccounted for. Please, allow me and a meager portion of my troops to fulfill our duty and retrieve her-- personally!”
His heart raced and the war room fell silent in wait of the enigmatic lord’s response.

And then, Lord Ilyich did something even more unexpected than Ayato’s interjection, he smiled.
“Ayato, is it? I respect a man that can make his voice heard, especially about such trying issues,” his voice boomed in the room. “Perhaps, my response did not put your mind at ease. Ayato, you and your squads are needed, especially for this next especially delicate, dangerous, and time sensitive operation. However, I do not intend to neglect you or your men’s concerns. In fact, my own personal squads will be searching for Bell and will bring her back soon. So, you can ease your heart and prepare it for the delicatices needed for this coming mission we’re all counting on you to see to.”
Though the answer wasn’t what Ayato had hoped to hear, he was rested his case.

He got his respect returned, got more information on the situation, and left the meeting satisfied, but after the meeting, a question still couldn’t help but linger in his mind: Why would a lord send him and his troops on such a delicate mission, have their personal squad pursue Bell who Ayato was more familiar with, and not handout the two missions the other way around?

Before losing himself completely in thought, he noticed the usually talkative, sometimes naggy Rein was silent and felt vindication. Ayato surmised she was both surprised and upset that him speaking up seemed to leave such a good impression on Lord Ilyich. He thought an ‘I told you so’ may have been in order. He didn’t say this, of course, but his head quietly swelled with a bit of pride.

However, upon seeing Jeremiah attempting to pretend he wasn’t just waiting out front for him this whole time, the reserved colonel smiled faintly. Ayato didn’t have news that Jeremiah could take a squad and search like he wanted to and didn’t know how the search for Bell would fair. However, him speaking up gave him and Ilyich a clearer view of each other’s situations and gave him something to say, if he chooses to of course.
 
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