Avernite

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So, yeah...

Thanks aniuby! I have published some things professionally, but only in the field of scientific literature (physics), not actually readable books (well, my PhD thesis is a book and strictly also readable for a certain audience), so I thank you for your high praise. My z's may well be an effect of my word auto-correct, because I am certainly not North-American. But then, English isn't my first language either, so I tend to have a mishmash of English and American styles.

I agree somewhat with your criticism on the 'get a room' joke, but I felt the reveal was odd without it. Something, to me, had to trigger it - and some person in the back of a dinner hall might well say it in even academic settings (we're not that different ;) ). Then again, it was specifically introduced because I felt something was off, and I may have missed and made it differently off.

The "shameful, that" part I actually still like even after your criticism. The story, to me, is Johan remembering how he resolved the issue and found out what really was going on in the fossil, while somewhat explaining the circumstances. The punch was not relevant, the figuring things out is. At the time, most people would be busy stopping the fight and being shocked by it, but Johan was busy having a Eureka moment.

Your point about paragraph ends is probably a good point. I like such soundbite-like endings to paragraphs, mostly because I have a tendency to ramble, and those kinds of things are easily split off in their own sentence in post-processing (where I try to cut sentences into smaller bits). However, as I said, my natural tendency is to ramble and construct beautiful several-lines-long sentences, so my feel for it may be slightly off.

Finally, as to dialogue, I agree it probably needs more/different punctuation. I am bad at dialogue punctuation, especially in English, and your comments help :)

So yeah, thanks for the praise and the commentary. My own commentary, obviously, was slightly forced - I tried to give a multicultural feel, with an Englishman, German, Frenchman (Davide), Caucasian-or-so (Arstan), faux-Korean (Kwun Yoo), but I may not have given them the exact right feel by making them all a bit special and having quite a few names for the length of the piece.
 

Gen. Marshall

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For a very brief time, I lived that moment of happiness when meeting a fellow Dutch phycisist on these forums - only for it to be utterly crushed by the realization that said fellow "physicist" studied at Enschede...

(Just joking, Avernite ;))
 

Avernite

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For a very brief time, I lived that moment of happiness when meeting a fellow Dutch phycisist on these forums - only for it to be utterly crushed by the realization that said fellow "physicist" studied at Enschede...

(Just joking, Avernite ;))

You must be a Brabo to say that. Delft usually is too smug in its superiority to feel the need to remind us (and the theoretical physicists only know in theory how posting works).
 

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Coz, is this still open? I really want to contribute. :)
 

coz1

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Still thinking about the project, but our last few rounds didn't have the response to our writAARs I would have liked. It's not fair to them to have them spend time writing something on which few will comment. Thought I'd let it go for some time and see who was still interested. Great to see you are!

Anyone else?
 

Avernite

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I'm still here :)
 

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Well, coz? Do you think you could start a next round soon? :)
 

coz1

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Fair enough - it sounds as there is desire to see more from this project. That's a good thing. :) Thus, I will give a new topic. Perhaps to follow along with the previous one, let's say the new topic is - An Heir.

That could be the birth of one, the lack thereof or the implications of either. Or any other direction one wished to go with the topic. As always, the first four to PM with interest will get the slots. I'd say a good deadline would be next Sunday (a week plus change) to give decent time for writing. I'll post the pieces soon after.

So who is interested?
 

coz1

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Folks, we have our four authors and coming this Sunday, we will see a new round for GtA! I'm looking forward to a new round as I hope you are too. Number of responses will dictate if we keep this going in future and I am sure I speak for our writAARs when I say we are interested in what you have to say. :)
 

coz1

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Note for our writAARs - deadline for submission was yesterday. I have two of the four that signed up so far. Please send them to me ASAP.
 

coz1

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Well, last Sunday came and went and unfortunately only two of our four contestants submitted their entries. Doubly sad as there were other takers that asked after the four slots were filled and I had to tell them to wait for another round. Hopefully they will still have interest. Until then, we should go ahead and post these pieces for you to read, enjoy and critique. Remember to let these writers know what worked and what perhaps did not and offer suggestions as to how to improve. And yes, feel free to guess them if you so wish.

Allow me to post both submissions and then you may begin responding. Thank you in advance for your comments and enjoy!
 
Last edited:

coz1

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Author #1

In 20 AD, Olaf, the King of the Germanic Tribes, led a raid on Worms. Worms was a Roman settlement situated by the Rhine. Olaf received news of the Roman’s intent on turning the settlement into a military outpost. Considering the close proximity of the settlement to the border of his nation, he knew that the outpost, once constructed, would pose a major threat to his people. Thus, Olaf decided to lead 2000 men personally on a raid with the goal of destroying the settlement and slaughtering all of its inhabitants. He had to move quickly because the Romans had already gathered laborers and soldiers to begin the construction. If the Roman soldiers do arrive, the settlement would be much better defended.

On a quiet night, Olaf led his men across the Rhine without alerting any of the Roman sentries. After they quickly dispatched the sentries, Olaf’s men charged into the settlement. Chaos ensued as the defenseless inhabitants were slaughtered on sight. No one was spared from death as Olaf wanted this raid to be a warning to the Romans. Roman soldiers, many of whom barely had enough time to grab their weapons, tried their best to hold off the attack. Given that they were outnumbered, the armorless Roman soldiers weren’t spared from death. Once all the Romans soldiers were killed, the last of the resistance in the settlement was wiped out. Olaf ordered the settlement to be burned down soon after his men killed the last few inhabitants that were hiding. His men quickly set the buildings on fire and gathered on the other side of the Rhine. Olaf told his men to return home where a celebration was already on its way. Olaf and his most trusted friend, Finn, stayed behind to watch the settlement burned down in flames.

“My king, this brings back a lot of memories, doesn’t it?” asked Finn.

Olaf stayed silent for a few minutes before he responded.

“Our parents died in a fire to protect us. That was the day we vowed to destroy the Romans. “

“I cannot wait for the day we enter Rome. We will make those monsters pay for their crimes.”

“I look forward to that day as well.”

Lightning struck a nearby tree but neither man blinked. Rain followed soon after which, after a few hours, put out the fire. Olaf and Finn, soaked to the bone, made their way towards the rubble. When they reached the gates, the King signaled Finn to stop. Finn, on instinct, pulled out his dagger. Olaf looked around to find the source of his uneasiness.

Finn broke the silence first.

“What did you hear? Did someone survive our raid and the fire?”

“I heard something. It didn’t seem like an animal but I can’t imagine anyone surviving. At least, I have doubt anyone mortal can survive”

“Let’s investigate then.”

The two men made their way through the rubble carefully. Their senses heightened with the belief that they would soon face off against something supernatural. The duo kept walking until, suddenly, Olaf heard a cry behind a stone wall. Olaf took out his dagger and leaped over the wall. Looking around, he didn’t notice a living creature until he heard another cry behind him. Olaf turned around and looked down. When he realized what was making the cry, he first put away his dagger. He then laughed out loud. Finn, still behind the wall, was startled by the laughter.

“My king, what’s so funny?”

“I think you need to see for yourself,” said Olaf as he moved aside.

Finn came around the wall and looked down. A baby was hugging a Roman dagger and stared at the two of them. It was obvious that the baby was still alive despite the bloodshed, fire and the rain.

“You are the one that cause us this uneasiness? I’m so ashamed of myself,” said Finn while he put away his dagger.

The King knelt down to hold the baby who refused to let go of the dagger.

“Well, I must say I’m surprised. This little guy refuses to let go of his dagger. He is a true warrior.”

“My King, we cannot allow him to live. Let’s end his life.”

Olaf looked down at the baby who stared right back at him. There was no fear in the baby’s eyes.

“Your name will be Ragnaar and you will be my heir!”

“My King…”

“Are you questioning my decision?” Olaf turned around to stare down his friend.

“No,” answered Finn who was trembling from the stare.

Olaf began to walk home with the baby in his arms. “Ragnaar, you are a gift from the Gods. You will capture Rome by my side. You will make me proud, my son!”
 
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coz1

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Author #2

Alex sprang through a gap between trees, his feet finding nooks and crevasses among the exposed roots with unconscious skill, eyes fixed of the boar’s tail as it darted away. The rough and slippery ground proved no obstacle to the experienced hunter, and as he drew closer to his quarry his bow arm rose mechanically. Pulling the thin sinewy hair of the bow back as he ran, he continued his pursuit, patiently waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

Duncan tried his best to keep pace with Alex, although he knew his friend would require no assistance in making the kill. Alex had a ferocious reputation with the bow, his keen eye and steady arm had filled their bellies and saved their lives on many an occasion. It had been a number of days since they had secured any fresh meat – and their supplies of dried bread could not last forever. This would be a welcome meal.

Alex was now closing on the beast, and the forest was becoming increasingly less dense as they travelled further from the river Forth that wound through its heart. Fleeting opportunities to release an arrow began to present themselves, but Alex wanted to be sure and waited the perfect angle to present itself. However, before it did, the intensity of the chase was interrupted by a chorus of disparate howls that chilled the hunters to the bone, and sent the boar into a frenzied panic. At least three great silver wolves materialised between the trees, also giving chase to the now petrified creature. The largest of the three, a behemoth which must have measures twelve feet from snarling jaws to tail, bounded onto the path not twenty paces in front of Alex and rapidly closed in on the hapless fleeing boar.

Alex rapidly came to a stop and wheeled round, grabbing Duncan as he closed the gap, and the pair bounded into trees away from the giant beasts. The crashing of trees behind them, and the ominous snarling, told them they had not escaped notice of the pack, and they redoubled their efforts to put some distance between them. A faint squeal was heard, terminated abruptly, which must have signified the last breaths of the boar. Thoughts of a full belly were however far from the pairs mind.

A human stands little chance of escaping from a pack over open grounds, and even the most dexterous could not hope to stay ahead in a forest chase. None of the trees looked thick or high enough to protect against the fearsome wolves, and Duncan frantically scanned for anything that would offer protection. As the pair crashed through the undergrowth and into a clearing, Alex suddenly spun round and fitted an arrow to his bow. The released arrow flew barely ten feet before it buried itself in the fur and flesh of the leading wolf, penetrating between the eyes and killing it mid snarl. Its companion quickly closed the distance and pounded toward Alex; only a glancing blow from Duncan prevented the five inch teeth from finding his friends throat. The wolf spun round, only slightly wounded by the sword and immediately sprang once again, its powerful claws opening a deep gash on Alex’s shoulder. Duncan again thrust towards the beast, stabbing the exposed side twice before dragging Alex back. The beast, now more severely wounded, maintained its distance but was soon joined by the third of the pack, who arrived with the mangled carcass of the boar clutched between its jaws.

Alex, wincing at the considerable pain caused by his injury, managed to send an arrow into the shoulder of the new arrival, although in his injured state he was unable to draw the bow string fully, and his arrow did not stop the beast. Duncan threw a dagger straight for the head, but the wolf was too quick and easily evaded the blow. Alex released a second arrow into the flank, but the wolves pressed forward, feeling that their injuries were not severe enough to hand the humans the advantage. Seeing that Alex was in no state to evade a further attack, Duncan sprang forward towards the closer of the two beasts and, swinging his short sword wildly, landed a number of blows across the face. This bought Alex time, and another two arrows were sent into the other wolf as it advanced. The animals, sensing that the humans were far from beaten, collected the boar and slunk away.


*****​

As the evening sun vanished behind the treetops, Alex and Duncan sat close to a low burning fire, sharing another meal of dried bread and oats. The wound on Alex’s shoulder was clean, and he had managed to bandage it. It would, however, be a while before his bow arm was back to full strength.

‘Do you think the child is still safe?’ murmured Duncan, as he nursed an oat broth.

‘Yes, I believe so.’ Alex replied; ‘We were the first to set out, and I very much doubt anyone else has made better time.’

‘Will there be many other searching?’ Duncan quickly interjected, clearly asking a question which had been on his mind for some time.

‘Yes, I am sure that an order of knights have also set out. We must avoid them at all costs, they will be a large detachment and pose a considerable danger.'

'These knights, this enterprise, the child is of great importance is he not?' asked Duncan. This as his first mission in the field, and although the considerable awe in which he held Alex was a source of confidence, his nerves were growing as the days wore on and the day grew closer.

Alex paused before replying, he could not reveal too much lest he worry Duncan any more than was necessary. Nerves were a useful reaction in so much as they kept a man from growing complacent, but soon a cool head would be required and he could not afford to calm his camp anion.

'Yes, the child is important. He is the next in line to our Kingdom, the elderly Kings only son. His arrival from overseas was supposed to be a guarded secret, but the court cannot be trusted. We know, and so it is safe to assume that others do too.'

'And those others intend to harm the heir, or hold the King to ransom?'

'I fear it is the former. Although the King naturally feels very strongly about his Prince, and would surely pay a handsome price for his safety, the kidnapper would find themselves a marked man. There could be no rest for them, forces would scour the country to exact their revenge, not least the heir himself when he came of age.

No, the real danger is from those who intend to end the heirs life. Doing so will plunge this country into chaos, and there are many in this land unhappy with their current lot. In this chaos they see an opportunity to improve their standing. These are the people the Royal Family must fear.'

Duncan's innocence was both an advantage and a disadvantage. He had proved himself useful already on this journey, and doubtless would again.


*****​

As the sun rose, burning off the last of the mornings fog, a distant sound caused Alex and Duncan to startle. Listening intently, it was clear this could be the moment they had waited for. A horse drawn carriage was approaching along the rocky road.

Duncan darted forward to peer along the road, listening as the carriage drew nearer. Alex began to gather their personal effects, confident that this was the moment they had been waiting for.

'Duncan, maintain a lookout and let me know that the carriages entourage is intact.'

Alex slipped southward, moving slowly towards the road, while Duncan willed the carriage to appear. He did not have long to wait. A few moments later the first horses appeared round the bend, and Duncan was elated. The carriage looked magnificent, and its guard looked formidable. For days he had been nervous that they would come across a carriage worse for wear, scarred by numerous attempts against her passenger. Worse still, he had feared they would find only the burned out remnants.

He doubted not that there were those out there who would attempt to intercept the carriage, but with his sword and Alex's bow, they would ensure that no harm came to the infant.

Duncan swelled with a sense of duty. It was strange, until a few days ago he did not understand the importance of the child. Now, he would lay his life down should he be required to, and intended to make it his life's mission to ensure this child acceded to the throne which was rightfully his. Those traitors who would prevent this would experience justice at the tip of his sword.

The carriage drew closer, and Duncan began to wonder whether he ought to reveal himself to the other guards, and organise themselves to ensure they delivered the Prince back to the palace. Duncan could hear the guards chatting to each other happily, they appeared relaxed and untroubled by the huge responsibility that fell to them. A slight sound caused Duncan to start, the cry of a child! To think, that this fragile baby would one day inherit a Kingdom, and determine the fate and prosperity of so many people, and yet here he lay, unable to feed or water himself, and at the mercy of those that would bring him harm. Their cause was a noble one, indeed.

A second sound puzzled Duncan, seeming out of place in this tranquility. The twang appeared to echo for many minutes, and he could make no sense of it. He stood, transfixed as the fine lace curtain on the carriage was plucked aside. Would he catch a glimpse of the heir?

But something was wrong. The child's gentle cries stopped suddenly. A strange silence hung on the air for a moment which seemed to stretch on for an eternity.

A low, anguished wail rose slowly from the carriage, increasing in pitch and volume. The pain of this cry snapped Duncan back to his sense, and he sprinted from the trees toward the soldiers who were rapidly dismounting. A grief stricken woman appeared, holding a limp bundle of blankets, stained a terrible crimson. The feathered tail of an arrow could he seen poking out between the folds.

The sight of this froze Duncan. To all appearances that seemed to be one of the arrows used by Alex, but it couldn't be. Puzzled, he did not feel the guards seize his arms, yanking his sword from the scabbard and forcing him to the ground. No, this must be some terrible accident, was he dreaming?

From the trees, Alex watched the scene unfold as he replaced his bow. Yes, innocence had been an incredibly useful virtue in young Duncan.
 

DensleyBlair

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Good to see we have some pieces – even if there are only half as many as advertised. I'll start with some brief comments in the second of our two and then come back to do the first later.

I feel first I should say that I enjoyed the piece. The pace was good for the length and as a short snippet we get with this initiative. Sentences were well crafted and I thought the writing generally eloquent. There were a few spelling errors, though I'm very much inclined to say they were just typos ("measures" instead of "measured", for example, in the third paragraph – the s and the d being next to each other on the keyboard. Sadly, in this instance such a mistake won't be highlighted by word due to the fact that both words are valid, so this is a good example of how important it is to check even when there are no red lines – something I certainly could do more often.)

One thing I did notice consistently, however, was a misuse of apostrophes – or, rather, no use at all. This is an incredibly common error, and it in no way impacted on my enjoyment of the piece, but the author could take a look at when to use them – namely when possession is concerned. It just adds a bit more polish to any piece of work. :)

I did also feel a certain element of the plot being rushed somewhat, though this I imagine is also due to the brevity one must deploy when writing for GtA. I certainly have submitted pieces where I've had to rush at the end, but I did feel here that perhaps a bit too much time was spent on build up. The wolf chase, for example, could probably have been truncated. I just felt a bit startled when the heir was killed. Obviously, there's meant to be some shock, but this was more to do with not really knowing what was going on, I'll admit. Perhaps some insight into motives may have been good? Why did Alex want to kill him in the first place – if he did, that is? Who is Duncan and what is is role in all of the events? Unanswered questions are very good if one is going to carry on a piece of writing, but here I think more of a resolution was perhaps needed.

Other than that, I thought it was a very enjoyable piece, for which I'd like to congratulate the author. I have a suspicion that our author on this occasion is Seelmeister, largely because of the Scottish names, but also because I have noticed the occasional erroneous apostrophe (or emission) in his work before. (This will be quite awkward if I'm wrong! :D) Great work, in any case. A solid piece. :)
 

Avernite

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Author #1: I have a minor complaint, which sadly arises all too often in GtA: the story is rather thin, it somewhat feels like the author wrote the assignment given by coz, rather than writing a story that so happened to fit into the assignment. It's a hard thing to master, but I feel it's the main thing I can complain about.
There's some sense of atmosphere to the story, but I never quite felt the dread that maybe something was in the town (the something that proved to be the baby). The Germanic tribes came, saw, and conquered, and eventually found a baby. In other words, it could use more tension.

Aside from that, the actual text seemed well-written, the only minor nitpick being that Olaf, Ragnaar and Finn are names I would expet on vikings raiding the Carolingians, not on Germans raiding the Romans. They just sound a bit too Scandinavian.


Author #2: My nitpick would be that noone's fool enough to run with a drawn bow, and yet Alex supposedly does for quite a while if I read the story right. Also, for a man with a badly hurt shoulder, Alex is a remarkably precise archer.

That being said: I think the story was much more a story, in the sense I talked about for author 1. However, due to the brevity of the piece, Alex' treachery comes across as weird. He could have told Duncan nothing, and would have gotten away more cleanly. Now, at least Duncan knows who murdered the heir - rather than merely knowing someone died, apparently. Say nothing, kill the babe, tell Duncan it was an accident maybe, tell him they have another mission, and by the time Duncan knows what happened we're months if not years later.