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Thread: "Guess-the-Author" Analysis and Critiques

  1. #1081
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    And we have our first author lined up....so where are the rest of you? Are you thinking this initiative is dead? Not so! We'll keep it going! It's a grand one and although I know it is summer and less activity going on, let's get cracking...
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  2. #1082
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    Well I've got two writers on board and one of them has already sent in his story. It's very good and I know we'll all enjoy it....Still need two more people, folks! So if you thought you didn't have a chance to do this, well there are still two more spots!

    We still have plenty of time....I am figuring that I would post the finished stories on the Fourth of July Weekend. So you writers out there have PLENTY of time to write a story.
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  3. #1083
    I would if my computer weren't misbehaving.

  4. #1084
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    You gotta spank them sometimes, JP....

    And we now have three entries.....one more to go.....
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  5. #1085
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    And now we have four! I'm very excited about the authors we have for this go around....

    As I mentioned before I will be posting these on the Fourth of July weekend....So I would like to have final submissions by no later than the 30th of June, if at all possible....
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  6. #1086
    Strategy GuidAAR Rensslaer's Avatar
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    Great work, Amric, getting this moving again!

    Renss
    Serenity - (V2 v1.3) - An isolationist Japan tries to stay out of everybody's way (Updated July '13)
    Kriegsgefahr (Impending War) - (HOI3/SF/HPP) - Germany attempts to remain at peace! (Updated Apr '13)
    Locarno - Italy vs. Germany (HOI3/SF/HPP) - What if Mussolini stood with France against Hitler?
    The Die is Cast (Roman Civil War) - Caesar will make a name for himself! (Updated June '12)
    Império Novo - An Axis Portugal AAR for HOI 3 (Updated May '13)
    Fire Warms the Northern Lands - A Prussian Victoria 1 AAR (Awarded the VictAARian Cross for Jan-Jun 2006)
    Castles In the Sky (Vicky 1) * Sforza!!! - A Milan AAR (EU III) (Updated May '13) * I Am Siam (V2 Minor) (tied for Silver VictAARian Cross for Best AAR completed in 2011) * A Long Time Ago... (HOI 1 Argentina)* Check Rensslaer's Inkwell! (list of online writings)

  7. #1087
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    Thank you......Hopefully there are more people out there who are just as interested as the two of us....
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  8. #1088
    Resident Iranien Fanatic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amric
    Thank you......Hopefully there are more people out there who are just as interested as the two of us....
    I´ve started to follow it this time around. So that makes three people.

    Hey!! One more and we can play bridge!!!

  9. #1089
    Lt. General TheExecuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by White Daimon
    I´ve started to follow it this time around. So that makes three people.

    Hey!! One more and we can play bridge!!!
    I don't know how to play bridge...so we need at least one more!


    TheExecuter
    The Last Mission A Love Story

    There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God's commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.

  10. #1090
    Hurricane Sergeant of Arms Amric's Avatar
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    I have informed the writers and now I'll let everyone else know...I have turned over this month's GTA to redwolf. Since there IS a possibility that I won't have access to the internet due to my upcoming heart procedure. This will go on, and redwolf will be posting the stories, that is good. I hope to be back and doing this for the next time. I look forward to this month's stories as well. It should be a fantastic allotment and one we will all enjoy.
    Guardian of Truth, Defender of Justice, Harbinger of Light! Formerly known as the Hurricane!

    Now retired from writing!

    "You can rest assured, sir, that I will do everything in my power to make sure it isn't my fault!" --Dr. Grant

  11. #1091
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    As mentioned by Amric earlier, I will be taking over this month's edition of GTA.

    Just a quick reminder to those writers who have yet to submit their articles to me, please try to do so by today so that I can out them up this weekend.
    Current AARs:

    1) Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008)

    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

    Check out my other works at the Inkwell

    A proud member of the Free Company. Death Rides with Us!!

  12. #1092
    Strategy GuidAAR Rensslaer's Avatar
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    Looking forward to seeing this round! Do you have all the submissions?

    Rensslaer
    Serenity - (V2 v1.3) - An isolationist Japan tries to stay out of everybody's way (Updated July '13)
    Kriegsgefahr (Impending War) - (HOI3/SF/HPP) - Germany attempts to remain at peace! (Updated Apr '13)
    Locarno - Italy vs. Germany (HOI3/SF/HPP) - What if Mussolini stood with France against Hitler?
    The Die is Cast (Roman Civil War) - Caesar will make a name for himself! (Updated June '12)
    Império Novo - An Axis Portugal AAR for HOI 3 (Updated May '13)
    Fire Warms the Northern Lands - A Prussian Victoria 1 AAR (Awarded the VictAARian Cross for Jan-Jun 2006)
    Castles In the Sky (Vicky 1) * Sforza!!! - A Milan AAR (EU III) (Updated May '13) * I Am Siam (V2 Minor) (tied for Silver VictAARian Cross for Best AAR completed in 2011) * A Long Time Ago... (HOI 1 Argentina)* Check Rensslaer's Inkwell! (list of online writings)

  13. #1093
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rensslaer
    Looking forward to seeing this round! Do you have all the submissions?

    Rensslaer
    I've gotten one submission so far and the remaining ones should come in within the next couple of days.
    Current AARs:

    1) Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008)

    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

    Check out my other works at the Inkwell

    A proud member of the Free Company. Death Rides with Us!!

  14. #1094
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    Alright, I've gotten all the entires for this edition of Guess the Author. I've taken a look at them and they are very good. I am sure everytime will enjoy reading them.

    In case anyone has forgotten the topic for this edition, the topic is "The Duel" and all the 4 writers have done their articles across 4 different genres so it's going to be very interesting reading.

    For this edition, I will be putting up an article a day starting from Thursday all the way till Sunday.

    Hope you guys will enjoy it.
    Current AARs:

    1) Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008)

    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

    Check out my other works at the Inkwell

    A proud member of the Free Company. Death Rides with Us!!

  15. #1095
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    Alright, here we go, the first entry for this edition of the Guess the Author.



    Author #1



    The True Story of the
    Dreadful Demise
    in a Doomfilled Duel of
    Dandy Dan,
    the Dread For Hire

    as told by, and with illuminating comments
    of various sorts of differing relevancy,
    RAC Harry Sky, P.I.



    The City, 23/02/4472

    I was counting my money for the umpteenth time that day when my door shook on its hinges. The knock on my door was of that particularly delicate sort that Deborah uses to indicate that work is on the agenda and would I please try to clean up into something remotely human in a goddamn hurry since she's got an actual client waiting. I cleaned up, counterfeited a passable smile, and returned the money to my safe and shuffled the safe under my chair. Deb is my quote secretary unquote and the one who does most of the footwork these days while I contemplate my treasures, of which she is without doubt the greatest. She's also, when the fancy takes her, my resident house tyrant and mistress, and I have it on the highest authority that she's way too good for me, as she has said so, frequently, but I have a lien on her soul, and what's a gal got to do but her best under such circumstances? I believe that deeply down she's fond of me and would stay in her job given the choice, but really, how can I tell? The only way I could part with such a coveted treasure would be over my dead body.

    Be that as it may, the client was a dame who stank of power, and she had an easy job for me. Now, in my line of work that usually spells trouble. The dames of the high and mighty flirt with danger, overstate the importance of the job, understate the problems involved, and nine times out of ten they are lying through their sweet teeth since what they really want is revenge. That's really awkward when what I'm best at is tracking down people or missing treasures and solving mysteries beyond the ken of man... But I digress.

    This time it seemed like easy money. The dame was Marguerie the Truthseeker (where do they come up with these names?), a novice journalist of little repute but much power, who wanted to know the details of an old case for a “Dangerous Dudes of Yesteryear (and where they are now)” column in one of the society mags, I kid thee not, but I'm always ready to brag of my past exploits so long as I get paid by the hour plus expenses. Somehow, she'd gotten her dainty hands on the information that I was involved in or aware of the circumstances surrounding the duel that brought about the demise of Dandy Dan the Dread For Hire, and I'd like to know just how. There are few left with personal knowledge these days and it isn't as if I advertised the fact at the time, but somehow she knows... Ah, well, that's a worry for another day. I opened a bottle of Chateau Gohorgia '87 (charged to expenses) to lubricate my throat and began my tale.


    The City, summer 4022

    As I recall, the buzz in the City that summer of 4022 was that Joshua the Fatecaller had stolen the heart of the daughter of the king of the silver hand, and that she wanted it back, preferably still beating. The campaign against the Egherians was going on its 11th year with no end in sight and the economy was hurting. The weather was atrocious, the fashionable folk had left the City for the Shore, and the City was sweltering with nary a scandal to break the peace. Autumn couldn't come soon enough.

    For one of the high and mighty, the king was said to be curiously sentimental where family was concerned, and it was whispered that he'd put out a contract on the Fatecaller and was calling in favours from members of the Just Society like the Teamster, the August Goon, and the Dread For Hire.

    None of which seemed pertinent to me, as I had more personal matters to attend to. At the time, I was a bit down on my luck having recently lost in one fell swoop my office, my girlfriend, and my hoard to a rabid lawyer courtesy of said girlfriend, so I was hungry for any sort of paying job lest I lose my luster and I let it be known that I was available for snooping, tracking, guarding, and wholesale destruction – my old standbys when all else fails, and that's really where the story begins.

    Jobs for Registered Aliens whose permits are about to expire are seldom of the type to write home about or to investigate too closely, so when a neighbour of a friend of an acquaintance offered five hundred for guarding a warehouse in the UnderCity for a month I took the money with no questions asked. We were six guards in all: me, the twins Fighting Jack and Jim the Man, Dumdum, Ossery, and Tim Tidewalker the Drunk, who'd once been somebody but no longer was. Tim acted as squad mage, of course, and Ossery was a Quad Lurker (2nd degree, disbarred) and responsible for perimeter defense, while the rest of us were hired on as muscle. Dumdum was a crack shot, Jack and Jim were swordsmen, and I had brought my trusty hammer along. A four foot shaft with a heavy steel head, what I hit with it tends to stay down. I was the odd man out as I was the only RA and the others were all Citizens, but they didn't rag me about my status.

    I've done worse jobs, but not many. Tracking down people or things (especially treasure) is fun, solving mysteries is intriguing, but guarding is dead boring most of the time, except when it suddenly turns excruciatingly intense for a brief period of time when my survival is at stake. Without boasting I can say that there are few things that can kill my when I am fully prepared to meet the threat, but I'm no warrior. If I had wanted a life of tension and unexpected death, I'd have joined the army and been shedding my blood fighting in Egheria for minimal pay.

    The entire first week nothing whatsoever of interest happened. There was the occasional unearthly light from within the silent warehouse and each evening at nine a hearse drawn by two skeletal horses would appear and be granted entrance from within but many an amateur theatrical society has been more scary than that. Dumdum suggested that it might be a body snatcher operation but as speculation was discouraged by the terms of employment, none of us debated him on the point as he might be a snitch.

    Whatever the case might have been, the job looked to be entirely unremarkable until the night Dandy Dan turned up. It was closing on midnight when a bitter chill swept through the abandoned street and enveloped the warehouse bringing with it a foul reek of tarnished memories. Walking confidently down to the warehouse was Dandy Dan, and dread preceded him. It wasn't that Dan spread actual terror like the ancient Necronauts had done, it is just that life is frail and he reminded everybody of it constantly without even trying, and when he did try, you felt very, very, frail indeed. Sounds silly when I say it, I know, but it is one of those things you just have to experience to understand. Of course Dan's volatile temperament and habit of killing people for the least offense helped too.

    Tim Tidewalker called up a fear-reversion and gathered the squad to confront the Dread. I must admit we made a pretty sorry bunch standing there preparing to block his path but hoping that he was merely passing us by and that I was inclined to run like hell should the need arise – an inclination no doubt shared by others in the squad. Dumdum and Ossery would no doubt stand their ground and they might just buy enough time for the rest of us to escape.

    Now, in those days, everybody knew of the Dread For Hire, but I guess I'll have to explain our trepidation to your magazine's readers. In theory, we outnumbered Dandy Dan six to one, but he was truly in a class of his own. Born the son of one of the high and mighty and trained in weaponcraft from infancy, he first gained notoriety in his late teens when he started providing his services as a duelist for hire. Any weapon, any rules, any restrictions – he took the jobs and he won, honouring the code duello with his every deed. With gun or blade none were his equal and he destroyed more than one mage by absorbing his magic and using it against its rightful owner. At the ripe age of twenty-two he got religion. He sold his own mother up the river in a pact with the dark gods in return for the appellation Dread For Hire and joined the Just Society, thus gaining access to a higher class of victim. At 23 years of age he killed 47 men in a restaurant because he didn't like the wine and nobody complained in public. In other words, he had “don't mess with me” written all over him. When I met him a few years' later, he was in the prime of his life, more scary than ever, and fact was hard to distinguish from fiction where he was concerned.

    To return to the story, Dandy Dan did, as it turned out, want to visit our warehouse, and he was in no mood for niceties. He had a sword in his right hand and a gun in his left and tore into us like a raging beast leaving no room for escape. Tim Tidewalker's magic shield went with his life as Dan's sword took his head and Dumdum went down in a hail of bullets. Ossery webbed the gunhand only to be knocked senseless by a backhand blow while Jack and Jim engaged the Dread For Hire in close combat, their flashing blades barely keeping Dan occupied as he pressed them back step by step.

    I'd taken minor injuries in the initial rush, a slash to the forehead and two bullets through my left heart and, though it affected my speed I a bit, then as now I can take much more punishment than most other men, but I found myself in a bit of a quandary. I couldn't attack Dan without risking fatally interfering with Jack and Jim, I couldn't run, and I couldn't hide. Furthermore, unlike the other guards, I was not a Citizen but merely a Registered Alien, so it might even be illegal for me to fight a member of the Just Society (for the record, I checked the law after the episode was over: it is indeed illegal for RA's to hurt Society members when not sanctioned by the member involved).

    Using my native abilities was not an option save in the last defense of my life since it is not only illegal but carries the death penalty, that's one of the first things that are drilled into your head when you apply to become a RA, and the doom is set down by the high and mighty themselves and thus likely to be pursued to the ends of the Earth if needed. A rather Draconian measure, but with all the people of all sorts coming to the City I guess it was necessary then as now for the high and mighty to remain firmly in control, and it is the best deal around for those of us with a non-standard ancestry – most human realms are Xenophobic to a fault but the City, for all its faults, allows us a chance to survive and even thrive in open competition with the humans, and if we succeed well enough to pass RAC we are better off here than just about anywhere else. (I finally purchased Registered Alien Citizenship in 4067 out of the reward for solving the case of the Death of the Purple Equestrian for the grateful heirs, but that's another story)

    Anyway, I picked up my giant hammer in my shaking hands and began edging towards the back of the Dread, ready to get in one solid whack should the opportunity arise. One solid whack and flight head over heels was my plan. Meanwhile, Jack was bleeding from a dozen small wounds and Jim was doing more than his share of fighting to cover his brother, when the door to the warehouse opened and out stepped the neighbour of a friend of an acquaintance who'd offered me the job in the first place. Dandy Dan recognized him and pressed his attack, but the man froze us all in time and called our fates.

    Yes, you probably saw that one coming miles away what with my introduction to this little story and all, but it sure came as a surprise to me! At one moment I was in the middle of a fight, the next I knew exactly what would happen if I carried through my intentions and was given an option to avoid that fate. One course of action of the Fatecaller's choice that would guaranteed save me from a known fate and impose upon me another one unknown to me. I don't know what the others saw, but Jack, Jim, and Ossery chose the fate of immediate death over their original fate and fell silent and still to the ground. I will not now, nor ever, speak of my original fate save to note that it promised me a fairly long life, but suffice to say that I chose the one that handsome Joshua the Fatecaller extended to me – it was, quite literally, an offer I couldn't refuse.

    I stepped back from my opponent, lowered my hammer to the ground, and waited.

    Dandy Dan, the Dread For Hire, was made of tougher stuff. Devoted to his own destiny beyond sanity or measure and bolstered by the dark gods of his choosing, he shook off the calling with a snarl and called upon the Joshu the Fatecaller to relinquish the heart of the daughter of the king of the silver hand or fight him, to the death, in a duel.

    This came as no surprise to the Joshu, who promptly accepted the invitation to duel and, as he was the challenged, he chose the weapon. He chose natural weapons, to which Dandy Dan handily agreed, for he was a master of all arts martial, and the Fatecaller's natural weapon of choice was me.

    To say that Dandy Dan was pissed by this particular sleight of hand would be to understate the case, but the Fatecaller had done his homework well in advance and proceeded to show that RA's had previously been classified as weapons in more than one ruling of the City's magistrates - admittedly none in cases pertaining to duels, so it was quite a bit of a stretch, but there was the case of RA Avait the Siege Golem vs. Citizen Johnson of 3874 (in which, in an interesting turn of events, Avait's employer Mighty Tempest Teapot was convicted of killing of Johnson's brother with a blunt weapon, to whit, Avait, and Avait was merely expelled from the City) and all pixies are considered weapons by anybody with the least bit of sense.

    So Dandy Dan the Dread For Hire, the man who never turned down a chance to duel, acquiesced but with a vindictive streak insisted that I strip naked and discard my hammer and all other unnatural weapons. He told me that he was going to wreck my body with the seven-fold blows of the art of Mejhana-Tong and seeing his deadly eyes, I almost believed him.

    Almost.

    The moon peeked from behind a cloud as I stood there naked in the cold freezing my gonads off when the Fatecaller gave the signal to begin. The Dread opened up with a force punch that would have taken out any magic shield as well as my head had it connected, but I was already rolling backwards and transforming, growing. Freed to use my natural abilities against him without incurring legal penalties, I rose up above him in my true form and fried him to a crisp, then I ate up the charred remains. Dandy Dan had been many things, but never a scholar, and his knowledge of Xenos was minimal. I'd like to believe that he saw the error of his ways and regretted his lack of interest in the world at large in the split second the fire washed over him, but, realistically, I doubt it was the case.

    My apologies, Dame Marguerie the Truthseeker, you seem to be stuttering and your face has turned a truly awkward purple? Relax, lady, and breathe shallowly. Don't hurry to leave on my account - you are paying me by the minute, and Deborah will collect the fee in gold as you leave. It may not have been the story that you expected, but it is the truth, the unvarnished truth, about the death of Dandy Dan the Dread For Hire in a damn silly duel proving, once again, that there's nothing terrible enough that alliteration cannot make it worse.

    Off the record, the Fatecaller kept his side of the bargain too, and gifted me with the living silver heart of the daughter of the king of the silver hand. With the death of the Dread For Hire, he had no further use for it. To this day, I do not know whether he used it merely as a lure or for some higher purpose, nor do I care: He was ever inscrutable and entitled to his mysteries, unearthly lights, hearses and all. It was wealth of the finest kind when I needed it the most and I coveted the heart like no treasure I'd ever had before - I never lost my luster.

    I returned it only slightly used to the king following a harrowing adventure that has no place in this account and ended up through a twist of fate that none could foresee (save perhaps the Fatecaller, but he sure hadn't warned me) in the possession of both wealth and the princess herself. It was a big scandal at the time, but of little interest these days except to the few surviving principals, so it is no surprise if you haven't heard about it.

    What I am? If you, as a Truthseeker, cannot see the simple answer to that and know to shut up about it, then perhaps you have chosen the wrong occupation. I'm a RAC of decent standing in the City and my origin is nobody's concern but my own, that's who I am.

    Please remember to pay Deborah before you leave. She has a mean right hand and a sterling temperament.
    Current AARs:

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  16. #1096
    Paradox QA Paradox Dev Team ForzaA's Avatar
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    Wow, just wow.. that's DAMN good

    One thing I do have to ask, is the 4472 (opposed to the 4022 in the second "chapter") a typo and should be 4072, or is it, indeed, also about long, long lives?

    I particularly like this gem:
    there's nothing terrible enough that alliteration cannot make it worse.
    Error in war on error on line 1.

  17. #1097
    Colonel Miral's Avatar

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    Very nicely done, and I really enjoy the names!
    "You can't fight in here, this is the war room!"

    The World at War - An American Perspective in World War II - In Progress (It's Alive Again!)
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  18. #1098
    Quite good. Interesting story.

    I would alter the following line
    having recently lost in one fell swoop my office, my girlfriend, and my hoard to a rabid lawyer courtesy of said girlfriend
    so that 'girlfriend' is first in the list, considering that she is the cause of the loss of the other things. That was the only thing I noticed edit-wise the first time around.

  19. #1099
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForzaA
    Wow, just wow.. that's DAMN good

    One thing I do have to ask, is the 4472 (opposed to the 4022 in the second "chapter") a typo and should be 4072, or is it, indeed, also about long, long lives?
    The author dropped me a PM to answer your question. Below is his answer.

    The answer is that it has, indeed, been 450 years since the death of Dandy Dan (perhaps the scheduling of the column isn't as accidental as it might seem at first and perhaps the journalist is doing somebody elses dirty work - then again, perhaps not )

    As regards unnatural long lives, some members of the high and mighty are capable of extending their lives through magical means (though only the strongest are capable of extending it beyond a few decades more than the norm) and some of the non-human species have significantly longer natural lifespans than humans. For the truly long-lived, feuds can span generations of human lives. Harry Sky belongs to a species that is notoriously long-lived.
    Current AARs:

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    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

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  20. #1100
    Lt. General redwolf's Avatar
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    Author #2


    The Duel

    An air of excitement and anticipation hung over those assembled at the courtyard of the Keep.

    An hour earlier, Sir James had ordered an area in the courtyard to be cleared for a joust between himself and Sir Arthur. The tension between the two had been brewing for some time now and things had finally come to a head. A tiltyard had quickly been set up. Meanwhile news of the impending duel spread throughout the keep and the courtyard had quickly filled with people.

    Sir James was the first to arrive at the courtyard. A hush silence descended on the courtyard as he entered and the crowd quickly opened a path for him to move to the designated jousting area.

    Moments later, Sir Arthur arrived from the opposite end of the courtyard and he too made his way to the jousting area. The pair walked up to each other and the crowd held its’ collective breath as the two knights stared at each other for a long drawn out moment.

    Arthur spoke first in a quiet tone, “Are you sure about this, James?”

    James nodded, “I am very sure. I love Kathleen and will do anything for her.”

    “You do realize that I have never lost to you ever before in any joust.” Arthur pointed out.

    Shrugging his shoulders, James replied, “There is always a first time.”

    Arthur sighed, “Very well then. The winner stays with Kathleen and the loser takes the next ship out to the Crusades.”

    James nodded once more and the two knights turned away from each other as they headed off to their respective squires waiting at opposite ends of the courtyard.

    “Well, did you call off the duel?” Luke, Arthur’s squire, demanded in a gruff voice as Arthur approached.

    “No. It’s still on.” Arthur replied, coming to a halt as Luke looked over his armor to ensure that it was suited on properly.

    Luke shook his head, “Utter foolishness, if you ask me. What do you think the Lady Kathleen will say if she finds out about this?”

    “She is not around at the moment. Why do you think we are doing this now?” Arthur replied, stretching his hands as Luke checked the strapping.

    Satisfied with the condition of Arthur’s armor, Luke took a step back and gave a signal to a stable hand who approached the pair with Arthur’s horse.

    With a nod of thanks, Luke took the reins of the horse from the boy while Arthur put on his helmet. Once his helmet was secured, Arthur mounted the horse while Luke held the horse steady. A young boy then passed Arthur his shield followed by his lance. Once Arthur had everything in place, Luke took one last look to check for anything amiss.

    After Luke was satisfied, he spoke to Arthur, “I don’t like the idea of this duel at all but if you are going to go ahead with it, then be careful. James might not have beaten you before but that does not mean you should be over-confident.”

    Arthur accepted the advice with a nod and a smile. Lowering his visor, he made his way to the end of the tiltyard. James was already waiting at the opposite end.

    A grizzled looking man-at-arms stood in the middle of the tiltyard. Once he saw both knights ready, he spoke to the two of them, “Once I wave the red flag, the joust may commence. May the best knight win.”

    Both knights nodded. The man-at-arms looked at both knights once more before waving the red flag vigorously.

    Arthur kicked his heels in and his horse began to advance. Picking up speed, Arthur set his lance and concentrated on his opponent ahead.

    Nearer and nearer, the two knights advanced towards each other. As they passed each other, James shield came up at the last moment to block Arthur’s lance, which splintered against the shield while James’s attempted lunge with his lance was easily shrugged aside by Arthur’s shield.

    The crowd cheered wildly as the two knights passed each other and onto the opposite ends of the tiltyard. A new lance was quickly given to Arthur while James waited patiently.

    Once Arthur had set his lance, the two knights charged each other once more. Again, James’s lance was blocked off by Arthur’s shield. However, Arthur’s lance got past James’s shield and onto the shoulder of his shield arm. Some in the crowd groaned as James staggered and barely held on to his seat.

    Arthur reached the end of the tiltyard and turned his horse around. He looked at James and knew James was in trouble. His shield arm’s shoulder had taken a nasty blow from Arthur’s lance and Arthur could see that James was struggling to keep his shield up. One more pass and it will be over, Arthur thought. He considered asking James to yield but then James kicked his heels and his horse started to advance again.

    So be it, Arthur thought as he urged his horse on as well. As the two knights neared each other, Arthur set his lance for James left shoulder once more. With his arm unable to fully support his shield, James would not be able to protect himself against the blow that will surely knock him off his horse. James knew this and yet he charged on towards Arthur.

    The two knights were almost on each other and Arthur could see that James left side was totally exposed to Arthur. Arthur hand tightened around his lance and braced for impact. At that moment, a sudden memory flashed through Arthur’s mind:

    The pure joy on Kathleen’s face whenever she was with James in contrast to when she was with him;

    Kathleen’s face of agony when James came back with serious injuries after a fierce battle;

    James standing in front of a wounded Arthur facing off against several enemies, holding them off and protecting Arthur till help came for them.


    With a sudden flick of his wrist, Arthur changed the direction of his lance slightly so that it came off harmlessly against the side of James’s shield. Meanwhile, James lance came up aimed at Arthur’s chest, a blow that Arthur would normally have easily blocked with his shield. Instead, Arthur kept his shield by his side and closed his eyes. A moment later, he felt a massive jolt of pain in his chest and the sensation of flying backwards.

    When Arthur opened his eyes again, he found himself on the ground staring up into the sky. He tried to get up only to be met with a bolt of pain shooting up his back. So that’s what being unhorsed feels like, he thought.

    There was a stunned silence when from the crowd Arthur was thrown off his horse and then cheering as the crowd celebrated James unexpected victory.

    Luke reached Arthur’s side asked, “How are you feeling?”

    Arthur groaned as he answered, “I think my back is broken.”

    Luke shook his head as he gently removed Arthur’s helmet, “I saw what you did. You deliberately lost the joust. Why?”

    Before Arthur could answer, James pushed through the crowd and went to Arthur’s other side, “Are you alright, Arthur?”

    “Never felt so good in my life. Congratulations on your victory. You’ve won. Kathleen is yours.” Arthur answered slowly, each word feeling like a stab in his heart.

    “Arthur, I don’t know what…” James started to say when another voice rang out from the other end of the courtyard, “What is going on in here?”

    A very familiar voice, Luke thought as he turned to the source of the voice. It was the Lady Kathleen. Her face was one of fury as she started to walk towards the two knights. The crowd quickly opened a path for her. Kathleen reached the two knights who were looking everywhere but her. She fixed an icy glare at the knights then at the hastily set up tiltyard. She turned back to the crowd, “Don’t you people have other things to do or would you prefer me to ask Father to find some jobs for you?”

    Suddenly everyone remembered they had something pressing that required urgent attention and in moments, the courtyard emptied leaving Kathleen alone with the two knights and Luke.

    Luke decided to make himself scarce as well but was stopped by Kathleen, “No, not you Luke. You stay and tell me exactly what these two idiots did in my absence. Give me every detail and do not leave anything out.”

    Luke gulped, took a glance at Arthur, who shook his head slightly, and then back at Kathleen. The look on Kathleen’s face convinced Luke it was in his best interests to tell Kathleen what she wanted to know. Giving Arthur an apologetic look, Luke started telling Kathleen the details of what had transpired in the previous two hours..
    Current AARs:

    1) Journey to the Far East - A Free Company Spin-Off (2008)

    2) The Free Company Book VII: Closure

    Check out my other works at the Inkwell

    A proud member of the Free Company. Death Rides with Us!!

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