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Thread: Quest for the Lyre of Orphaeo

  1. #31
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    One form, and straight into another.

    Closing her eyes tight Philomel screamed as she willed the aged powers into her form. Drys-blessed as she was, she allowed the formation of endless days into herself, going from faun to goat-headed beasts ... and onwards into a roaring, spitting form. Screeches of agony echoed around the halls as she took on the form of the enraged dire-goat far faster as she ever had before. The entirety of her body spasmed, shaking and spluttering ...

    From the side - from the opposite edge where Joshua was creeping towards the sorceress No-One as the woman began to spin a larger than ever swirl of light within her palms - a streak of red and saffron brilliance emerged. Mighty, beautiful, flames pouring off him like streams of water, the firey form of Veridian now five times his normal size, ran. Jaws ablaze, eyes of gold gleaming, he rushed at the witch who threatened his darling beloved. As Philomel kept screeching, her weapons now discarded as her hands became hooves, he leapt, jaws wide, heading fire for the shoulder.

    The ball of light, made for Philomel originally, found a new subject. That beast of earth and fire was met with an almighty crash of brilliance and flashing lights. But Veridian had already clamped his jaws, and as he fell heavily, the brightness piercing his chest, his forewarned bite flew from his maw. Illusions of his jaws, created pf the flickering fire that licked his coat, clamped around her shoulder. The witch began to scream, sweeping up a hand. As she did it seemed that the dust around her, that which Philomel had just moments ago caused to fall from the ceiling, began to shake. Though she was now burning from the fiery bite, her power was by far not dimmed. The dust rolled, swiftly curled into larger and larger forms.

    First swirls, then tiny whirlwinds, then more and more -

    Paws. Eyes, ears, fierce noises that belonged to another plain.

    Another scream from Philomel, but finally - finally - she was getting back onto her feet. Her hooves. All four of them and her screams were turning into dark and darker bleats. Crying in rage for the barely breathing Veridian lying on his side. Or was he just resting. Could it be that -

    Light reigns where fire cannot, he breathed into the fury that was Philomel. That was ... a hard hit. I know not what I can do anymore.

    A savage bleat tore through the crevices of the world, shaking it once more. The woman, she was not looking at Breaker, instead she was concentrating on her dust forms as they came into being. One, two, three, four twisted strange beings born of light, wind and dirt. All with starry eyes that were glancing around for the next enemy. Veridian, the massive half a ton of magical goat that was gaining to its hooves ... Breaker. One saw Breaker.

    And they charged.
    Matriarch of the Gilded Lily and of its brothels, associated establishments and the army.

    --
    Characters:
    The family triplet: Philomel, Vaeron and Celandine.
    The god and kenku triplet: Stare, Avin and Vixen.

  2. #32
    upon the cheek of night

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    Breaker's Avatar

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    The dust beings bore down on Breaker with single minded efficiency. From four different directions they approached, heavy shoulders swinging, headless bodies bent to their task of destruction. Their long arms looked like warclubs, shaped to rend flesh and shatter bone.

    Breaker did not shatter so easily. Some feeling had returned to his legs, but nothing more than a tingle. He rolled aside as the first specter struck, and snared the ankle of the second. Or rather, he tried to. His hand passed directly through it. The thing's massive arm thudded into his ribs, driving the wind from his lungs. Still he rolled away and scrambled to his feet.

    I cannot touch them... but they can touch me. The dust golems were ethereal, and yet not. They moved swiftly, in co-ordination, and surrounded Breaker once more. The cavern shook with their footsteps, and with the mad bleats of the transformed Philomel.

    Josh summoned blades of ice, but the weapons passed right through their targets.

    The dust golems beat him like a housewife cleaning a dirty rug, striking him from all angles in rapid succession. The body of blows forced Breaker to cover, arms upraised to guard his head. They battered his sides, his front, his back and his legs, but they could not force the unbreakable man flat.

    I must destroy them at the source. Josh could not touch the creatures... but he could kill the witch that summoned them. Or at the very least, cut off her powers. He could not see the sorceress through the wall of golems surrounding him. Instead he searched for the source of her power, finding it bright and brilliant a short distance away.

    With all of his own might and arcane knowledge, Breaker attempted to seize control of the sorceress' magic, to shut off her access to the Tap. She was too strong. It felt like attempting to dam a mighty river with a single driftwood spar.

    Perhaps if Philomel can weaken her...

    An uppercut from a dust golem slipped through Josh's guard and clipped his chin, drawing blood from his lip.

    "Lyre bearer!" He cried, "Finish this evil one!"
    Last edited by Philomel; 05-30-2018 at 08:48 AM.

  3. #33
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    Philomel van der Aart (+ Veridian)
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    As large as a terrifying Salvarian white bear and as vicious as a dragon, the twisted, beastial form of Philomel the dire-goat steadily gained to its hooves. Black to the skin, yet speckled in white and brown, she stood at seven foot to the shouder, mighty enormous horns spiralling seemingly into a void. With vivid eyes of silver that seemed themselves to glow, her mind was not of any reasoning creature.

    The cry rang through her tapered ears.

    "Lyre bearer," it screeched, "finish this evil one!"

    Evil? Who, what? The goat let out a horrific bleat, the echoes filling the chamber. No-One the Sorceress turned her head away from her dust-creatures returning to the source what they had been. Her dark eyes slowly blinked, hands before her forming an invisible sphere between them. By her legs Veridian still was breathing, but barely. He had returned to his birth-firm, all the flames and muscles had gone. Mighty as he had been, now he was little more than a struggling pest. Eyes wide and golden he watched the witch's gaze settle onto the goat, Breaker just managing to gain his ground.

    Only just.

    And now between the hands, in the exact centre of that sphere, a tiny nodule of illumination was beginning to be created. A pinprick of the smallest star, an atom of light that was a single point but could easily swell into something more. The swirling storm of the settling dust was merely a sign of what the witch might do more. Even as she was beginning to smirk, eyes dancing with delight at the sight of the massive goat that was beginning to growl in a bleating manner, the dust around her shook, as if the creatures that had been were threatening to return.

    Just defeated. Now, coming back. The whirlwinds of sand and black coloured dirt picking up pace, shaking, flittering, fluttering ...

    Philomel! Veridian shrieked, please!

    And he gave a cry of pain. Lacerating to the ear, haunting, spectacular, thundering it through their connected mentality into the goat's conciousness.

    A roar. And Philomel the beast felt the source of the horror in this place, the agony of her companion pointing her directly towards the woman standing there, the pusalting orb of light growing, growing, growing ...

    She began to run, charging with vehemence. Within seconds she had picked up pace, horns down and eyes the colour of death. Full of the blessing of Drys, and the anger of a thousand years of hatred.

    Ready to face the sorceress whose dust storms had hands once again.
    Last edited by Philomel; 05-30-2018 at 11:49 AM.
    Matriarch of the Gilded Lily and of its brothels, associated establishments and the army.

    --
    Characters:
    The family triplet: Philomel, Vaeron and Celandine.
    The god and kenku triplet: Stare, Avin and Vixen.

  4. #34
    upon the cheek of night

    EXP: 204,344, Level: 19
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    Breaker's Avatar

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    Joshua Breaker Cronen
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    Roaring with frustration, Josh waved his mighty hands and summoned gusts of wind to batter the dust golems back. He staggered toward the sorceress, legs still refusing to work properly. The woman was charging her light-magic again, preparing to launch another glowing orb at her original target; Philomel.

    But Philomel was gone, replaced by a great and rampaging dire goat. Its beard and pelt streamed with the wind of its charge, its curved horns lowered toward their target.

    The sorceress continued gathering her strength.

    Breaker could see her magic. She would be ready too soon. Philomel did not move fast enough.

    "Lyre-bearer!" He called, and then she disappeared.

    She re-appeared in the same instant, directly in front of the sorceress. Josh circled, trying to get behind the woman. Philomel's horned skull swung in a massive headbutt at the same time as Veridian the fox nipped the target's ankles. She fell like a toppled tree, hard and without ceremony.

    Breaker pounced on the witch like a spider taking a fly. As his arms tightened around her body as her hands came up, glowing with deathly promises.

    Too late. Josh squeezed until her spine cracked, and her eyes rolled back in her head. He left her body lying there and rose, watching the returning dust golems crumble to nothingness.

    Philomel bleated and pawed at the ground. Breaker raised his hands defensively, lest the dire beast not understand him.

    "You must return to yourself now," he said, "it is time that we find your lyre."
    Last edited by Breaker; 01-24-2018 at 09:17 AM.

  5. #35
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    Philomel van der Aart (+ Veridian)
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    It is time.

    It is time that we ...

    The ruined remains of No-One, priestess and sorceress of the demon god Bark'al'tol, lay before her hooves and lowered horns. As her huge chest panted, eyes mad with savage beastial anger, she tried to grasp what had just happened. What her rage had brought her. Pain, that was clear. Heavily, the dire-goat spewed out a wave of vomit, made of the faun's breakfast and leftover blood and bile from the agonising transformation. Heaving, she could barely watch as the corpse seemed to wither away before her, the skin flaking off and writhing into the air like the dust golems she had so cunningly animated. Pale beauty became grey horror as right there Bark'al'tol claimed her soul, flesh and mind, stealing the youth that he had granted and casting her body straight into cremation. No flames came, but ash and smoke rose, spiralling beyond the wheezing goat's head.

    Suddenly, Philomel collapsed to the ground, letting out a pained bleat as agony ripped through her. Siezing her form it made her instinctive mind once more aware of the horror Veridian was still going through, as the full force of the light energy still thrummed through him. The part of him that was Behemoth, the ancient fire whisp, fought with heart and glory against the dark light of Bark'al'tol, but it was a losing battle. Slowly, Veridian was fading, and though he had found the energy to bite at No-One's ankle and help them win the war, he was drifting away. Drifting into death and back to that ash tree where they had first met, all those years ago ...

    Philomel, his voice gasped in her ear, Philomel, the quest is still not over. You need ... you need to ...

    And into her mind he sent a glorious image of the goddess herself. And not just any goddess, but the goddess. Drys, the beloved, Drys, the tree-maker, Drys the mighty and mother of fauns and earth-spirits. Drys, who ruled over Philomel's and Veridian's hearts and had made them hers - her totem on the face of Althanas.

    There, in all of her bright glory. Long, flowing fair hair drifting to the ground. Pale skin, like that of a beech tree, with leaf-green eyes. A gown made of the softest silk, as if sewn by spiders and made from petals, which flowed off her form and down, down to the ground where it seemed to merge with the ground and become nothing more than the forest floor. It parted, though, and showed those dainty, bare feet, hovering inches above the air as wings made from vines and branches spread out to the air, ground and atmosphere but unbeating in themselves ...

    Oh my. Oh Drys ...

    Gasp. Reach. Clasp. Grasp.

    Calling out she fell to the floor, spasming and writhing as her mind awoke. Body shaking, the fur began to receded back to its original pattern - just around the legs. The tail shortened, the horns spiralled back, and the head began to mutate to present the skin once more. Skin under the goat, under the beast, that was ...

    Humanoid. That was Philomel, and that was gloriously faun.

    The Matriarch awoke, gulping in air as she lay there, naked and pure, eyes staring around. They looked to Veridian, who she could feel was on his last breaths, and they looked over to Breaker, standing there, crouching with an avid concerned look on his face. They looked to the now burnt remains of No-One who no one actually cared about, then briefly regarded the lumpy hulk of Feardon - long forgotten, long since unknown.

    And then they looked up the now short distance up the dyke and over to the altar-like tomb with the partially shattered lid. With the weathered carvings, she could see now, of the life of a man who was a great musician. A man who had challenged a minstrel god to a contest and won. Won a lyre that, when played, could, if legend was true, force anyone to do his or her biding.

    A tomb where she knew, because of the book in that downstairs library that now seemed so long ago had been mentioned. The resting place of Orphaeo, the legendary minstrel, he who had the lyre. The lyre that had been buried with him and had been sought by demon-god and barbarian alike and now ... now ...

    Now was within her grasp.

    Shaking, she began to stand and stagger to the final resting place of the final leg of her quest.
    Matriarch of the Gilded Lily and of its brothels, associated establishments and the army.

    --
    Characters:
    The family triplet: Philomel, Vaeron and Celandine.
    The god and kenku triplet: Stare, Avin and Vixen.

  6. #36
    upon the cheek of night

    EXP: 204,344, Level: 19
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    Breaker's Avatar

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    Naked and shivering like a leaf on the wind, she strode down into the shattered crypt. Sharp fragments of stone stabbed at her hooves with every step, but she walked onward as if unfeeling of them. Her steps carried her down the rubble, into the carved coffin where an ancient skeleton lay, clutching a lyre. It was fashioned from ageless mythril, and glowed to Breaker's eyes as if freshly polished and lit by a beacon. In truth, he was seeing its innate magic. He could see the great, and terrible potential within the instrument. It could be used to save lives or change the course of a war... or it could be used for great evil. And so it was that one such as Philomel must bear its burden, for the faun was pure of heart and sought only to please her goddess. Much like Breaker, he the guard of the lyre bearer.

    Philomel crouched on her hooves beside the coffin and lowered her curled horns. She kissed her fingertips and touched them to Orphaeo's skull in a sign of reverence and respect, and then gently lifted the lyre out of his ancient arms. The bones rattled but remained intact as she rose and climbed out of the pit, enchanted instrument cradled like a babe in both arms.

    "We have it," she said to Breaker, eyes glowing with tears of wonder. "After so much... we have it at last."

    "Concern yourself with the treasure, lyre-bearer." Breaker said. He found the shimmering cloak he'd crafted for her lying among her possessions, and swept it around the faun's shoulders to warm her and hide her nakedness. "I will concern myself with you."

    "There is such power within this," Philomel said, emotion bubbling beneath her voice. "I can feel it burrowing into my hands, my arms, my soul. It calls to me. With this power we could do anything, Breaker. We could cleanse the Red Forest. We could turn back the oncoming forces of Alerar. We could rise to the very level of Drys herself..."

    "But we will not," Breaker reminded her gently. "It is for that that we were chosen for this mission. Breathe deep, lyre-bearer, and remember your true nature, and your purpose. Your goddess charged you with bringing this item to safety, not to use it."

    Philomel nodded slowly. "You are right. I know you speak the truth, and yet... the power within pulls at me so. It is like an itch and an appetite all in one, begging to be scratched and slaked..."

    "You are stronger than your desire." Breaker gripped the faun's shoulders and gazed into her eyes. "Only you can bear this burden, and only I can protect you." He guided her to a fallen pillar and sat her gently on the hard stone. "Rest a moment. I will gather your weapons." The faun nodded, a faraway look still haunting her eyes.

    Breaker strode around the chamber picking up the various items and clothing Philomel had discarded during her transformation. He returned to her side and helped her buckle on the weapons. Her own hands never left the U-shaped instrument. Every so often she caressed the ageless mythril strings, but she never dared to pluck them. Who knew what even a single note from the ancient artifact might do?

    "Are you ready, lyre-bearer?" Breaker asked at last. He stretched and twisted his torso. His legs were finally feeling like they properly belonged to him, recovering from the powerful light attack the sorceress had struck him with.

    "Yes," Philomel said after a moment. "Let us leave this place."
    Last edited by Breaker; 05-30-2018 at 10:16 AM.

  7. #37
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    Philomel's Avatar

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    Philomel van der Aart (+ Veridian)
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    Slowly Philomel lifted up her eyes from the white, beautiful lyre. Her fingers still stroked the air above the strings, but her gaze went away to the right where she had seen Veridian fall. Softly, in the light of the dying globe of light she looked upon where his body had been, and now where there was only empty space. Softly, she breathed in, knowing that in a few moments he would be back under the ash tree, far away back in Corone. Soon, their minds would touch again, and they would be as one. Connected as souls, each other's true family.

    Rising from her crouch she watched Breaker coming over, his hands wrapped around her weapons. The cloak he had made for her fell around her, and she felt a smile coming to her face as she looked upon him. So beautiful, was he, blessed like she by a goddess, and truly wonderous. A warrior, a magician, a hero. With him she stood, nodding slowly and hugging the lyre to her chest.

    "So the stories were always true," she said softly, "Blessed Orphaeo had a lyre, buried with him." She looked over to Breaker as they began the long walk out. "Did you ever think that we would find it?"

    "I trusted that our godesses spoke truth," he said quietly, and Philomel found herself nodding.

    "That is something that ... I fail to do sometimes," she admitted. "I fail to put my trust in Drys, even though she is wholly true and just. She created my race, and that of the earth-spirits, of which Veridian is one of. We sometimes feel but cogs in a machine, but it is at times like this that I remember that I am more than that. That I am ... not just a cog."

    A small sigh came from between her lips as she saw the ragged remains of her armoured corslet in his hands. It was an expensive piece, but one that had been truly damaged in this period of fighting and strife. A spare blast of magic had torn a quarter asunder, brutal and harsh. Later on she would need to take it to a menders to get it fixed, but at least these days her coffers were not empty. Nay, not in the slightest.

    They slowly climbed out of the tunnel, light flooding in elation and beauty. Philomel felt herself warm with the sight of the sun, hugging the lyre to her chest. As she did she silently said a prayer to Drys, thanking her for their survival and the ability to bring into safety such a treasure. She thanked her for the presence of Joshua, and the fact she had met such a wise man. Perhaps, later, they would rejoice under a starlit sky in a clearing in the safer part of the woods. Away from this mound, away from the mauls, away from all that -

    "You are welcome," said a soft voice.

    Philomel knew exactly who it was. As she gained out of the tomb, her body spun, eyes going wide. Breath escaped from her lips as she fell onto her knees before a beauty who stood there. Tall and fair, with hair the colour of a summer wheat field. Her eyes were bright, and she was dressed in a gossamar green gown, flowing and without end as it seemed to merge with the ground itself. A wreath of flowers adorned her crown and as Philomel saw her her face lit up in a gentle smile. Leaning forwards she - Drys, the goddess - placed her hand's on the faun's head and whispered gently.

    "Today and forevermore, you are my priestess."

    Then she kissed her head, and stood slowly back up. Philomel stayed down, her heart a flutter with pure awe as Drys looked to Joshua.

    "Hello," she greeted him, "I am Drys. Thank you, beloved of Ama'leh and Survani, for aiding my Philomel."
    Last edited by Philomel; 01-25-2018 at 03:14 AM.
    Matriarch of the Gilded Lily and of its brothels, associated establishments and the army.

    --
    Characters:
    The family triplet: Philomel, Vaeron and Celandine.
    The god and kenku triplet: Stare, Avin and Vixen.

  8. #38
    upon the cheek of night

    EXP: 204,344, Level: 19
    Level completed: 77%, EXP required for next Level: 4,656
    Level completed: 77%,
    EXP required for next Level: 4,656


    Breaker's Avatar

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    Name
    Joshua Breaker Cronen
    Age
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    Demigod
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    Male
    Location
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    Breaker warmed to the goddess' presence like a weary traveler sitting close to a campfire. Love and power emanated from the forest guardian, like the light from her eyes and the sweet smells from the crown of flowers she wore. His hazel gaze met her emerald stare evenly, yet with reverence.

    "Thank you for your patronage, mother of trees." He said. "My lady Suravani bid me entreat you, and so I am at your service. What more would you have of me? Shall I slay every maul in the forest, or chase the wicked magic from the very roots of these?" He indicated a red-trunked oak nearby.

    Her laugh was a fresh summer breeze playing in the loftiest, lightest branches of the trees. She kissed her fingertips and outstretched her hand to touch the scars on his cheeks, first one, and then the other. Her skin was softer than satin, warm and luxurious but fleeting as she retracted her arm.

    "Your quest is at an end now, great warrior. I do not doubt there will be more to come... but for the moment, all I require is that you escort my priestess to safety. She is the lyre-bearer, as you call her, and she can bear the burden of Orphaeo's great instrument. Return now, to the place where the Fealotë bare their souls to the sky. Take her there, Heartbreaker, and I will speak with your goddess. An alliance with the mistress of the moon is not outside my interests... and she has sparked my curiosity with a contribution such as you."

    She reached out with both hands, caressing Breaker's face with one and lighting beneath Philomel's chin with the other.

    "Rise now," she said, "and return whence you came. I will use what influence I can in this place to keep you safe." There was a subtle shift in the breeze, and as the trees changed the angle of their sway, Drys vanished like grass on the wind.

    "My goddess," Philomel breathed as she climbed to her cloven feet, "my sweet Drys. She has blessed us with her presence. No evil will touch us from here on. It cannot, for both of us carry her blessing."

    "Even so," Breaker said, "we should make haste. This section of the forest will not seem so friendly after dark." The shadows had begun to stretch lazily, reaching a point where they stood longer than the trees that cast them. "Let us find your ter'ak, and return, as Drys said, to the garden of soul blossoms where first we met."

    They found Philomel's beast of burden where they had left him, lowing softly between a stone outcropping and a ghoulish yew, munching crossly at some deadened grass. The faun climbed aboard his back, and after a moment Breaker joined her.

    The ride felt too smooth and soundless to come from a great crashing beast. Breaker was reminded of soaring over the dunes of Fallien on the back of a griffin, for he was still beset with wonder from Drys' touch. No matter how many deities he spoke with, championed, or loved, the magic of their presence never wore thin. Wrapped in the security of the forest goddess' promise, they rode back through the crimson forest until the sun kissed the horizon, until the moon embraced the earth, until darkness shrouded them and the stars became their guide. Breaker felt nearly lulled to sleep, and yet he could not help but notice the familiar surroundings as the ter'ak trundled onward.

    "Here, lyre-bearer," he said to Philomel, who still clutched the instrument with both hands. She guided her beast to a halt with her knees. Breaker climbed down first, his eyes seeing more in the darkness than an ordinary man could in full light. He recognized the shape of the trees, recognized the way the moonlight crept through the branches, and felt the seeping warmth of the soul blossoms he had repaired not so very long ago. "We have arrived," he said simply, and sat amongst the Fealotë.

    Philomel came and sat at his side, still stroking the lyre like a newborn babe's downy hair. Her fingers lit close to the strings, but to actually pluck them, she did not dare.

    "You have seen much of me," she said after a time, her head falling to rest on Breaker's broad shoulder. "And you have met my goddess. Guard me now while I gather a few moments sleep, and our kinship shall be cemented.

    Breaker breathed deeply, feeling the weight of her horned head, and smiled up at the moon.

    "Rest as much as you need, Philomel." He said. "So long as this forest surrounds us, I am your guardian."

    The moon smiled back at him, and the trees chattered their appreciation. Soon steady breathing swelled the faun's breast, but her hands remained tightly clasped around the Lyre of Orphaeo.
    Last edited by Breaker; 05-30-2018 at 10:21 AM.

  9. #39
    International Sex Symbol

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    Shinsou Vaan Osiris's Avatar

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    Judge's note: as this submission pre-dates the rule change on judgments, it will be done using the old full rubric format.

    Judgment

    Breaker and Philomel, I’d like to start by thanking you for what has been an excellent story to read. I have always enjoyed your individual work and so I came into this with high expectations. Neither of you disappointed me. Due to the quality of this thread you may find a bit of my commentary is nit-picky.


    ________________________________________

    Plot: 19/30


    Story- 7/10

    I would like to open my commentary by saying I was absolutely astonished to find out that the story hadn’t really had any sort of pre-planned structure. It reads almost as if the thread was carefully thought out and planned, such was the cohesion, and that in itself is as high a compliment as I can give you on the structure of an “off-the-cuff” thread.

    You opened with a scene that introduced the reader to a manuscript being investigated by Philomel, thus providing an immediate objective without giving too much away, before elaborating further via flashbacks. Early on I felt that the item hunting theme was perhaps a little “tropey”, and not particularly original, but I soon discovered this did not at all stop me from enjoying the flesh of the plot once I dived in, especially when Feardon and No-One entered the fray.

    As the thread continued, you flecked your tale with action broken up by more muted but important scenes, which is something I think many authors overlook. It was those scenes that I felt perhaps most impressed by your infusion of Althanian lore into the story. On more than one occasion you eluded to the lingering effects of the Forgotten One Pode on the forest of Lindqualme, which dives into lore established back on Althanas 3.1, and made them relevant to the plot. As I expected, Am’aleh, Drys and Suravani were central to the driving of the plot and played important roles in not only driving the story forward when required, but ensuring there was a sensible and coherent method of communication between Philomel and Cronen that would otherwise have looked out of place. All of these bits were drawn from pre-existing lore and really enhanced the read.

    Probably due to the length of the thread, I felt that the rising and falling action were a bit inconsistent. For example, Breaker’s confrontation with the Mauls were well written and over in a decent timescale but the rest of the action on the story was a little slow on the upswing. However, the thread made for a very easy read. Rarely was I bored, or bogged down by too much action, or too little; it just took a bit of time to get to those moments of juicy crescendo.

    One last note: Breaker, whenever I do a judgment for you, one of the subjects I always bat on about is the lack of challenge you give Cronen. On this occasion, I felt that Philomel’s involvement helped to temper that and her own vulnerability (or mortality, whichever way you look at it) still presented enough questions to not make the thread too predictable or boring. I’m glad that you were able to demonstrate Cronen’s superiority in a way which didn’t detract from the plot.


    • Setting- 6/10

    Setting was a strong area for you both, and as such I won’t be providing too much feedback here bar a couple of points to think about. You both did an excellent job of describing the Red Forest, and one particular sentence by Philomel caught my eye:

    “The trees were still hungry, the bark still as rust-hued as dried blood; the atmosphere still as uncertain”

    I could feel as if I were there in Lindqualme as I read along and this is testament to both your skills in this area. On the flip side, while your setting was immersive, I did not think you really used it to your advantage and it felt as if you were “playing inside the box” rather than adapting it for your use. There was a post early on by Breaker which described him cleansing a section of the forest, but overall how could you have used the surroundings to tell more about your characters? You defined the setting, and your characters acted within it. What more could you have done to give your setting more meaning?


    • Pacing- 6/10

    As I alluded to in the story commentary, I felt that both the length of the thread and the general lie of it made it a bit inconsistent when considering the pace. Whilst the story ticked the most important boxes (a clear start, middle, end, or climax); I was never sure if I was to be rushing or taking a breather.

    The opening posts dragged their heels a bit, but there were a few spots where pacing felt great, mostly the fight scenes. When it comes to combat, I stick by the rule that less is more. A few well-written sentences of action can be far more effective than an entire paragraph, keeping the reader along for the ride the entire time. Too much, and you leave your audience bogged down by what may be unnecessary drivel. I felt that your fight scenes were very well written, gifting the reader fast and exciting moments of action.

    Finally, I felt that acquiring the Lyre was a bit rushed, when compared to the rest of the thread. Considering the sheer implied power of the artefact, and what enormous role it played in your thread, I feel it could have used a bit more attention. Part of this could have come from more information about it, whether that be its intended use, or Drys giving more background on the Lyre (such as what it actually does). Again, perhaps a little bit nit-picky, but my thoughts nonetheless.


    ________________________________________

    Character: 24/30


    • Communication- 8/10

    When it came to communication, I had very few concerns. Both of you write your characters well, and because of the connection between Cronen / Phi and their respective deities, the way that they communicate makes sense. I’d like to see more quirks, catch phrases, or unique speech patterns to give your dialogue some additional flare, but what you did have, for the most part, was solid.

    I would encourage you both to check your characters for overly-cliche dialogue. A few lines in this thread just felt outrageously trope. Breaker, you are an incredible writer and a fantastic friend, but I couldn’t help but laugh when I read "Lyre bearer!" He cried, "Finish this evil one!" in post thirty two. It felt like something out of an old Masters of the Universe episode. Perhaps I am being a bit harsh, because Joshua is a straight arrow, but it felt as if he were expressing himself just a little too “knighltly”.


    • Action-7/10

    For the most part, your action was really good. You both did a fantastic job of exhibiting your powers and outlining your characters' weaknesses and limits, despite the challenge you had to overcome of being at the levels you are at. Limits are incorporated into character profiles for a reason, but more importantly, good writers know how to weave them and their strengths into a more believable tale. Breaker’s fight with the dust Golems, for example, was very well done. Considering that he probably could have drawn from an array of his talents to combat them, I felt you limited him just right here and used intelligent writing to fight them. Philomel, your combat scenes are always very well written and this thread was no exception. Everything from the enraged bleating to the way you describe her confrontations create this aura around her that makes the Faun a uniquely intimidating entity.

    Your action score is a bit lower than you might like, however, due to the concerns that I raised in the commentary on pacing. There were a few cases when both of your action felt a bit drawn out.


    • Persona- 9/10

    Again, this will probably be an are with light feedback. Although I am well acquainted with both Joshua Cronen and Philomel van der Aart, I always try to focus purely on what the thread presents. Even forgetting everything I already know, I was able to get such a good feel for who your characters were, especially with the benefit of the longer story. The reflections on their goal, and their shared devotion to their respective goddesses were well done as well. As for consistency, which is equally as important, I would say you both did a nice job. There were a few parts that I really enjoyed, such as Cronen taking care of an exhausted Philomel, and the Faun’s persona changing in accordance with her various forms is a nice touch that always helps to add colour and depth to her overall character.



    ________________________________________

    Prose: 24/30


    • Mechanics- 7/10

    Though you are both excellent writers, and clearly care about mechanics, I found more errors in this thread than I would have expected and unfortunately the vast majority were by Philomel. There were more than a few obvious spelling and grammatical errors: "Embarress" was used instead of "Embarrass" in post nine. “Forgotten's Ones” instead of “Forgotten One’s” in post five. Even with a thorough read-through, these small elements might be missed and I always recommend a quick spell check to eliminate these types of errors.

    That being said, Phi, the way you structured your sentences and paragraphs were actually very good indeed and helped to break up larger portions of the story. Breaker, the most praise is reserved for you here, as your posts were quite literally error free. You have a fantastic command of the English language and it is actually quite hard to give you any meaningful advice here so I’ll instead say “keep it up, sunshine.”


    • Clarity- 9/10

    The one thing I like about the both of you, both individually and collectively is the clarity of your threads. Rarely do I happen upon anything you’ve written and find myself re-reading a post to grasp a plot device, or feel unsure as to what a piece of dialogue means or refers to. Very well done here indeed. The only slight on the score stems from a scene with Delath near the beginning where I had to re-check exactly what he was doing, and even then I feel I’m being overly harsh.


    • Technique- 8/10

    When it comes to assessing your technique, this is the part I most enjoy about judging your writing as you are both absolutely fantastic in this area and I often use you both as inspiration for my own writing. As was the case with my previous judgments for you both, I really liked the techniques you both employed in this particular thread. I was very excited by the foreshadowing at the end of the first post with regards to the Lyre, especially as it was preceded by a lovely little recital from a manuscript. There were also some very nice metaphors (such as the one I highlighted above regarding the Red Forest trees), something you both have a knack for. You're also both very skilled at using that internal monologue to your advantage, although I would caution against being too generic with your tones – something which I think is exceptionally difficult to avoid, but done right is also an opportunity to really add flair to both your character and the overall quality of the read.


    ________________________________________

    Wildcard: 8/10

    I’d like to use the wildcard to issue a little apology to you both. Reading back through my commentary, it comes across that I didn’t enjoy the Lyre as much as I actually did. Considering that the majority of this thread was an improvised collaboration, it was very well written and looked, at times, planned. Thank you for letting me judge this enjoyable story!

    Final score: 75

    Congratulations!


    Philomel receives 4125 EXP and 283 GP, as well as the below spoil:


    Philomel gains an icecraft cloak made by Breaker, composed of ice, Fealotë blossom and plant, and magic. It is described as follows: "The water became molten ice, and shaped slowly into the form of a hooded cloak, suspended in the air. Josh reached out and grasped it with both hands. It was warm to touch, made so by Drys' love. It was light as silk, made so by Suravani's brilliance. It was strong as steel, made so by Breaker's might. And yet it fluttered in the wind like any fabric, as soft and fragrant as the Fealotë blended within."
    Breaker receives 5510 EXP and uses his GP to pay for the spoil as requested!

    In addition, this thread receives a JC nomination!

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