Fantasy Writers

Character Castle 2.0

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    I was still petting Azar during Acyn and Lorcan’s conversation. Acyn was being his usual, mildly irritating, self.

    Quin seemed embarrassed, and I made a point of smiling at him again. I liked him already.

    “No animosity? I was starting to enjoy the assassin and the princess’ squabbling. I suppose I’ll have to find another way to amuse myself,” a loud, metallic voice thundered.

    Azar yelped and I ducked, reaching beneath my skirt for a knife. I flipped it around in my hand, ready to throw it at the threat. Something about the voice was deeply unsettling and really made me want to drive a knife into its owner.

    “Someone tell me they heard that too?” Acyn said, calmly, then noticed the knife in my hand. “Oh, good. Spear them.”

    I giggled, a sudden relief of tension.

    “Wish I could but where’s the voice coming from?”

    Suddenly, the entire room shifted, the rubble disappeared and turned into a blank, narrow room, with us at the far end.

    “That is… scientifically impossible,” Acyn said, dubiously.

    I pointedly glanced around the room, as though expecting everything to disappear in a puff of logic.

    “Well, it happened,” I said.

    “Am I wrong or is that wall coming toward us?” Acyn asked, uncertainly.

    He wasn’t. I saw the opposite wall slowly, slowly, crawling closer. I glanced around, searching for an escape. There was nothing. The wall would crush us against the tunnel opening where Liorah and Ferran had disappeared.

    “It is,” I said, hurriedly. My voice had shot up to the higher octaves and I swallowed, trying to manage my nerves.

    “I suggest we all wait and then straight-up die,” Acyn suggested, helpfully.

    I glared at him.

    “Not the time to be dramatic.”

    He looked genuinely confused.

    “I was?”

    Time to make it a ✨ little more interesting ✨

    Go wild, invent anything that’ll help them get out, but make it as hard as possible! Be creative!

    (Also, @emily-waldorf The voice they heard was unanimously dubbed “Lord Castle” and it’s literally the sentient, malevolent voice of the castle. (It briefly had a southern accent, but I think someone changed it) Everyone controls it and you can do whatever you like with it, but the castle’s motivations are literally to make life as hard as possible for the characters XD)

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    Emily Waldorf

    At the first shifting of the room, Quin swayed and caught himself.

    “she’s right” boomed the voice. “This is no time to be dramatic.” the wall hurdled closer. “In fact, there is no need.”

    A rumbling started from some unfathomable depth that sounded like giant laughter. It grew louder and louder as it came closer to the surface, until whole castle started to shake with it. The walls fractured, with dozens of tiny cracks, and the huge rift opened in the floor, trapping them between it and the oncoming wall. Quin staggered, tried to catch himself, and tumbled to the floor, his head inches away from the widening chasm.

    With a crack louder than the loudest thunder the ceiling split apart, and choking dust rained down.

    Quin looked around, but the others were hardly visible in the dusty air. He coughed and got his hands under him.

    The shaking had never stopped.

    Locran was shouting–for real this time, since they were orders, and Acyn was muttering something Quin couldn’t hear. Sahar still crouched, gripping Azar’s fur with one hand, and her knife with the other.

    The noise became unmistakable. It was laughter.

    “Now try to escape me!” the voice shouted above the din.

    Quin’s head snapped up suddenly, and he started looking around as if he’d lost his mind. then everyone else heard it, too, thin, but unmistakable: “Quin!”

    It was coming from above them. Through the dust they could see the rent in the ceiling, sharp and jagged, and leaning over the edge nearest them was the shape of a man.  He was stretching his arm down as far as it would reach, toward the man with the crutches.

    Quin scrambled to his feet, and gripping Acyn’s arm for support, he threw one of his crutches through the dust. The man’s grasping fingers caught it, and he hung it on a jag of stone. “Come on!” he yelled.

    Quin jumped as high as he could, but his fingers only just missed the extended crutch, and he fell back, nearly knocking Acyn down with him.


    (thanks, Rose! I was clueless. :))


    On that Day I want those who hated me most to have the least to say against me. ~Quin Miller

    Denali Christianson

    Hey, can I join? And can someone kind of explain a bit more of what’s happening? From what I’ve read, I have a very rudimentary idea, but nothing beyond that. Thanks!

    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir

    Emily Waldorf

    Hi @denali-christianson! I don’t see why not! It might bump us up to 11 characters, but some of those don’t seem to be very active, anyway, and Idk how long one of mine will stay. Here are the characters currently in the castle:

    (if I get anybody’s wrong, or you’d like to elaborate, please do so–I’m also new here)

    Locran (Neasa’s character) An assasain with a Donegal accent, who wears a coat and a mask that covers half of his face (the lower half I believe)
    Acyn and Sahar (Rose’s) Acyn: shorter than average, in boring clothes and with stringy hair. He has ink stains on his fingers b/c he’s a scribe. Sahar: a literal ray of sunshine who is short, with dark skin and hair (black curls, I believe). She wears lots of bright clothing and jewelry.
    Klein (the Rusted Knight’s) has lots of armor that makes him look bigger than he is. and lots of sense, too.
    Hugon (Noah Cochran’s) A bond-haired thief.
    Misu (Calidris’) Apparently an angel–literally. He hasn’t appeared in my time.
    Quin and Qatar (mine) Brothers. Quin is short and slight, with sandy brown hair and…eyes. (Don’t remember the color, lol) His left leg is missing and he has crutches. His time-period could be mid 19th century America, but he’s in a fantasy world, so, yeah. Qatar is very tall, with black hair and a stern face. (stern everything, actually.) And an anger problem.
    Rosey and Ehud (Cathy’s)–they’re in a simulation thing in another part of the castle, so we don’t see them.


    What’s happening. All these characters have just survived a giant wolf attack, I believe (before i got here), and now the castle–sentient and malevolent, named Lord Castle– is trying to squash them between two walls by moving one toward them. there is a giant crack in the floor, another in the ceiling, and dust everywhere, plus an earthquake that is actually Lord Castle laughing. Qatar just appeared on the crack in the ceiling, and is trying to help Quin up by using one of his crutches.(see the above).


    Does that make sense?

    What is your character’s name? What is he/she like?

    On that Day I want those who hated me most to have the least to say against me. ~Quin Miller

    Denali Christianson

    Hmmm. I think I’m going to have a brother/sister team named Niarok and Yila.

    Niarok: 6’2, 18, shoulder-length black hair, piercing blue eyes, severe mannerisms, but soft inside. He tends to be quiet until he’s with his sister. He also has a snarky streak and enjoys a good roast. He’s scary good with a sword and can shoot a bow at need. Yila insisted he learn how to throw knives, but he doesn’t do it very often.

    Yila: 5’8, 17. long black hair with streaks of red, sky-blue eyes, moody, sensitive, but usually quite bubbly. She doesn’t talk very often but has a habit of gesturing to communicate. She, like her brother, enjoys trash talking people she likes. Her favorite weapon is a disturbingly large arsenal of knives, but she is also dead accurate with a longbow. She can wield a sword at need but finds swords too cumbersome to carry with her. She’s missing the thumb and index finger of her left hand.

    Okay, so I’m still unclear on what’s happening. I’m going to have Niarok and Yila back up so that they’re fighting wolves and they run into the castle for refuge, then go from there. Is that cool?

    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir



    *Rushes across the room and gives you a massive hug*

    Welcome!! I’m so happy you’re here! I’m Rose, pleased to meet you!

    Hmmm. I think I’m going to have a brother/sister team named Niarok and Yila.

    Stabby, sassy siblings?? I need to meet them now!!! I love them already!! I bet they’ll get along so well with my characters! (Especially since Sahar has her collection of knives too and Acyn does have a sword somewhere but he’d rather die than fight and I think he actually forgot it somewhere XD)

    *Glances over the description of my characters* Yep, that’s pretty accurate! The only stuff I’d add is that they’re both from a North-African Medival fantasy setting. Besides that… umm, they’re both actually very intelligent but as soon as they get together it’s just chaotic stupid all-around. (With lots of snark XD) They’re polar opposites in every way, they’re both side characters. Okay! I think you got it!

    Okay, so I’m still unclear on what’s happening. I’m going to have Niarok and Yila back up so that they’re fighting wolves and they run into the castle for refuge, then go from there. Is that cool?

    Yep! That’s a cool way! But it really doesn’t matter how you drop them in, (this entire castle is just chaos anyway, and I have never once written anything serious here. *Remembers that one dramatic, tearful ‘death’ scene I wrote earlier* Actually, never mind but my point stands!)

    I dropped these characters in by having them go through a portal in a bookshelf (the portal was named Hector) and wander around in the void for about a page and then just fall from the ceiling. It stands as the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever written, but it worked and it was characteristic XD

    I’m talking too much, my actual point was: I can’t wait to meet your characters and I’m so happy you’re here! I hope you have fun here!


    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    Denali Christianson


    *squeals and returns hug*

    I’m glad I’m not unwelcome!! 🙂

    Stabby sassy siblings are literally the best character ever invented and I’m so excited about them and I love them to utter death already!!!!!!

    Cool, so now I’m just gonna post stuff from their perspective…


    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir

    Denali Christianson

    Yila gasped for breath as she yanked the knife from the wolf’s body and spun to face the next howling monster. She dodged to the left, blinking sweaty hair out of her eyes, and hurled the knife. It sank into the wolf’s neck. She paused, trying to breathe.

    “Yila! Behind you!” her brother Niarok screamed from her right. Yila snatched an arrow from her quiver and spun to face the giant wolf. The alpha. Yila winced. She wouldn’t be able to kill it. Not with an arrow.

    She grunted, dropped the arrow, and yanked the much-hated sword from it’s scabbard while backing away. The wolf snarled and crouched. Yila gasped again, trying desperately to get air in her lungs. Curse this blasted asthma!

    The wolf sprang. Yila yelled and swung the sword in a flashing arc, catching the wolf’s head as it hurtled down towards her. She turned away, ignoring the blood spurting from the wound, and shoved her sword back into its scabbard. Niarok sparred with a werewolf. The thing shapeshifted into its manly form, and Yila resisted the urge to scream.

    Niarok parried as the werewolf grabbed a branch from the ground. Yila yanked a medium-size knife from her belt and wound up to throw it, but Niarok dodged a slice from the werewolf’s branch, which had shapeshifted into a sword, putting him between Yila and the werewolf. Yila felt like throwing up. Shapeshifters were disgusting.

    Niarok fought hard, but exhaustion clearly weighed down his limbs. Yila shook her head, hating to do what she had to do, but her brother meant too much to her. She spun the knife in her hand and charged toward the fight.

    Channeling her ninja training, Yila sprang from the ground, somersaulted through the air, just missing Niarok’s sword, and landed behind the werewolf, who turned to meet her.

    “YILA!” Niarok screamed.

    Yila yelled and threw her knife. But the werewolf was too fast. It flicked the knife away with the tip of its branch-turned-sword and approached her. Yila grabbed an arrow and put it to her bowstring, gasping for breath.

    Her vision blurred. NO! she screamed in her mind. She would not give in now. With a strength of will she didn’t know she possessed, she forced her vision back into focus and shot the arrow. It penetrated the were-wolf’s shoulder, and it screamed, dropped the branch, and fell writhing to the ground, a wolf once again.

    Yila collapsed, gasping. Her lungs wouldn’t fill. Vices clutched them in a death grip. She couldn’t breathe. The world faded, but not before Yila felt a painful ripping in her shoulder. Must be the teeth, she observed as she fell into spinning darkness and stopped breathing. The sound of Niarok screaming her name faded to silence.


    That got way darker than I thought it would…

    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir

    Denali Christianson

    Hi guys. I got bored. Here’s part two!

    Niarok parried, panting. His arm felt like lead. He couldn’t hold much longer.

    That’s when the shadow flew over him from above.

    “YILA!” he screamed, knowing what his sister was doing. Panic burned his veins.

    His sister faced off against the werewolf, her blue eyes burning coals. But Niarok could hear her wheezing. Her asthma would take her faster than the werewolf could.

    Niarok bared his sword and prepared to attack the werewolf from behind. Yila’s knife flew. It was deflected and spun off course. She put an arrow to her bow string and drew back, but her eyes went out of focus. Niarok pulled up short.

    What happens if she misses and I’m behind the werewolf?

    The arrow flew.

    Niarok jumped back as the werewolf fell writhing to the ground. He rushed to his sister, who collapsed to the ground.

    “YILA!” he cried.

    The werewolf moved.

    Niarok jerked. “Yila! Get up!”

    The werewolf lunged at lightning speed, clamping its jaws down on Yila’s shoulder.

    “NOOO!” Niarok yelled.

    The werewolf never saw the light of day again.


    Niarok fell to his knees beside his bleeding, suffocating, unconscious sister. Anger at life’s injustices warred within him, but he shook it away, reaching for his herb pack.

    He shuffled around inside of it, searching desperately for the herb that would restore Yila’s ability to breathe.

    His fingers closed around the fuzzy leaf and he ripped it from the bag.

    With deft hands he tore the leaf and mashed it into a pulp in his hands. He forced Yila’s clamped jaw open and administered the pulp.

    Yila gasped for breath and her eyes fluttered open.

    Niarok heaved a sigh of relief.

    “Roky?” Yila whispered.

    Niarok smiled. “Yeah. You need to stop almost dying.”

    Yila grinned, but the grin morphed into a grimace. “Those were teeth.”

    Niarok flinched. “Unfortunately.”

    Yila squinted. “Poisonous teeth.”

    Niarok lowered his head. “Yeah.”

    Yila fought to sit up. “How long do I have?”

    Niarok grimaced. “A week. But you’ll be delirious in about three hours from now.”

    Yila shut her eyes against the pain and crawled over to her brother, who set to binding the wound. He put a litany of herbs beneath the bandage, knowing nothing would stop the poisoning.

    Niarok sighed. If only I’d kept the Mirianweed…

    Yila leaned her head against her brother’s shoulder and sighed too. Niarok couldn’t help but admire her. She was tough. She knew the stakes. He didn’t have to waste energy counseling her on the intricacies of life.

    But he couldn’t bear the thought of letting her die.

    Yila motioned toward the sky, and Niarok looked up. Stars pricked the canopy of night and twinkled down on the lonely siblings bleeding in the middle of a battlefield.

    Niarok put an arm around his sister, and she leaned into him. Niarok’s mind raced through possibilities. The only way to stop the poisoning was with Mirianweed. He couldn’t get Mirianweed except in swamps, and as far as he knew, there weren’t any swamps in this wasteland of a place.

    Yila grunted, and Niarok turned to see the beginnings of swelling in her right arm.

    “I love you, Roky,” Yila whispered, then curled up in the grass and fell asleep.

    Niarok growled. Why does she think sleeping is such a great coping mechanism?

    Probably because it was.


    Niarok left her lying on the ground while he went in search of their scattered weapons. He wasn’t leaving until he found every last one of Yila’s knives. If he left any of them behind, she would personally kill him later.


    Yila raised her head. The world was moving. Her eyes felt gritty, and her head pounded massively. A throbbing, burning pain tore through her shoulder every time the world moved.

    Yila opened her eyes. At first all she saw were blurry shapes, but they slowly morphed into a plain lit in the early light of morning. Yila twisted her head to see behind her and immediately regretted the action.

    The world stopped moving.

    Niarok’s face came into motion above her.

    Yila questioned him with her eyes.

    “I see a castle. Looks kind of old and abandoned. I’m thinking there’s going to be Mirianweed in what’s left of the moat,” Niarok stated.

    Yila grunted.

    Not that she didn’t appreciate her brother’s attempts to help her, but everything hurt.

    “I thought you said I’d be delirious?” Yila choked out from a constricted throat.

    Niarok glanced down at her. “Oh. You will be. It’s only been two hours.”

    Yila’s eyes widened. This was about to get fun.


    Sorry I got carried away…😶🙄😏

    Did I mention I was bored?… 😉

    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir



    Yila gasped again, trying desperately to get air in her lungs. Curse this blasted asthma!

    *Hurls an inhaler at Yila* Ah, that sucks!! That’s such a cool thing to add to your characters though!

    OoOoH! Poisoning!! *Cackles in maniacal delight* I love a good poison. *Hides search history and manuscripts.* Not that I’d… ever do that… in my books. Never. *Cough*

    I can’t wait to see where you go with this!


    Quin crashed against me, leaving his crutch behind. It was a clever plan, using it to get up.

    I assessed the situation. Sahar was alright for now, but Quin needed my help first.

    I offered my hand and pulled him up. I squinted up at the crutch. It wasn’t that high, Quin had almost had it.

    At least Liorah had taught me one useful thing. She used to struggle to get on her mare, back before she’d grown tall enough, and used to coerce me into helping her up.

    I cupped my hands and gestured upward. Quin caught my drift and placed his knee in my hands. On the count of three, I boosted him up and he grabbed the crutch. It was just close enough for whoever was up there to help him up. Okay, that was progress.

    The crack was gaping wider, and the wall was getting closer.

    Lorcan probably would have stabbed me if I’d suggested helping him, so I turned to Sahar.

    “Come on, leave Azar, she’ll be fine,” I lied.

    Sahar glared at me as if I’d suggested a murder. No, probably more. She laughed when I suggested murder.

    “I’d rather leave you,” she hissed.

    “Come on, I’ll help you up.”

    Sahar hesitated, then sheathed her dagger. She was on the point of picking up Azar when the dog wiggled free and bolted toward the wall.

    “Azar! You stupid– come back!” I called.

    Azar acted as though she hadn’t heard me and barked at the wall, as though determined to protect us from it.

    “Here, girl,” Sahar coaxed.

    Azar, usually so flawlessly obedient, didn’t listen.

    I groaned.

    “He didn’t teach the dog to respond to her name, remember?”

    Ferran’s mother was deaf, and they communicated with a form of sign language. It came more naturally to him, and that was how he had trained Azar. And in the process had somehow forgotten that it might be needed for other people to call his brainless dog.

    “Do you know how to call her?” Sahar asked, dubiously.

    I rolled my eyes again, and Sahar got the message.

    She darted off and scooped up the dog, then rushed back to me. Getting the dog and Sahar up was going to be quite a task and I sighed in advance.

    This was not going well.


    Oh, I completely forgot to mention that Azar is a middle-sized, reddish-brown sheepdog type. She actually came with my previous characters but got left behind.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    Denali Christianson

    *Cackles in maniacal delight* I love a good poison. *Hides search history and manuscripts.* Not that I’d… ever do that… in my books. Never. *Cough*

    *Also coughs, diving to cover up the computer screen with a picture of a rattlesnake bite* Nope! Definitely not. Never. No. Way! Wouldn’t that be like so cruel if I ever actually did that to one of my characters??? Who would do something like that???

    Sahar glared at me as if I’d suggested a murder. No, probably more. She laughed when I suggested murder.

    I’M SO DISTURBED AS TO HOW SAHAR AND I ARE LITERALLY THE SAME PERSON!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don’t worry. I don’t plot murder. *coughs* usually…


    Just. A. Little. Further!

    Niarok’s legs burned as he tried to strain his way up the hill. The wound he’d found on his arm that he may have neglected to tell Yila about had bled itself out and sat threatening infection.

    Niarok growled and set his feverish sister on the ground. The sun beat down hot on his unprotected head, turning his black hair into an oven.

    Niarok grabbed his herb bag with some anger and bound his wound with as much efficiency as he could. Hopefully it had bled enough to remove any bacteria left by the ferral wolf’s teeth. Thankfully, it wasn’t a werewolf bite.

    If I can keep it from getting infected…

    Niarok turned to his sister and grimaced at the sheer size of her right arm.

    Yila whimpered in her delirium, and her eyes opened for a moment, glassy and full of pain and fear. Niarok felt his eyes well up.

    I couldn’t protect her. And now she’s going to die.

    Niarok shook his head and grumbled a word through clenched teeth that would have made his mother blush and his sister laugh riotously.

    Niarok searched for a poison-slowing herb, struggling within himself. If he opened the wound, it would bleed some of the poison out. But his sister was so weak, it would probably kill her before the poison could.

    Niarok shook his head and grabbed a small knife. He mixed the leaf into a poultice, removed the bandage, and pricked the swollen, oozing wound with the knife.

    He grimaced as pus oozed out, and his stomach rolled.

    Stop it! She’s just another patient.

    Niarok waited for the infection to reduce its flow. The second he saw a drop of blood, he stuffed the poultice in the wound and bound it tightly.

    She might lose her arm.

    Niarok bowed his head.

    If she can’t shoot a bow…

    He fought back the anger and sadness – and fear of what his sister, if she lived, might do to him – and lifted her in his tired arms.

    The castle was so close. He would reach the moat within the hour.

    Maybe, just maybe, his sister would live…


    Niarok collapsed on the edge of a festering swamp, gasping for breath and trying not to choke on the putrid stench permeating the air.

    He needed Miranweed, and he needed shelter. The castle had shelter, but it wouldn’t help if his sister was going to die.

    I can’t leave her here! Her asthma will kill her in this air!

    Niarok grimaced and stepped into the swamp, searching deftly for solid ground. He found it.


    She wandered in a dark wilderness, feverish and alone.

    Pain shot through her arm constantly.

    She thought she would throw up.

    Vaguely she heard a familiar voice, but she couldn’t place who’s it was.

    “You’re going to be okay, Yila. Just hold on. I’m going to help you.”

    Who was Yila? She couldn’t remember. The name sounded so familiar, but it hurt her brain to search for it.

    Then she heard cackling.

    And rumbling.

    And screaming.

    And a strange voice she had never heard taunting her, telling her to come out from the shadows.

    Maybe this was death.


    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir


    Okay drum roll guys. Lorcan’s mask is gonna come off. And I need reactions from you all. He’s very very good looking soo maybe a few gasps from the ladies are in order hehe 😜 he has some scars here and there but like really cool ones that make him look awesome


    Lorcan watched as the crack slowly widened. “Get onto the wall,” he yelled. “That’s our only shot. Hurry!”

    He didn’t hesitate as he leapt onto the wall, racing along it like a spider. His eyes followed the others as they attempted to clamber up as well.

    Liorah‘s annoying friends were boosting Quin up. Their dog simply yapped and refused to follow their orders.

    That was when a heat began to fill the room, building to a suffocating level. Lorcan felt the air begin to thin in his mask. He breathed steadily, but he was losing breath.

    Then lava began to fill the room through the crack in the floor. He gaped as it began to spread over the floor.

    Acyn and Sahar began ti shout at their stupid dog, who just ran further away from them.

    You’ll never be worthy.

    Lorcan gritted his teeth as the memories came flooding back to him. No, not this. Not now.

    <i>Suddenly he was lying in the mud, his face being crushed by a heavy boot. Pouring rain came down on him, so he was practically smothered in wet filth. The temperature was probably somewhere just above freezing point. That smug sneer glinting down at him.</i>

    ”Illegitimate son of a harlot,” his superior said in disgust. “You’re not worthy of your bloodline. You’ll never be worthy, ya here me?”

    <i>Lorcan was trembling hard, so so hard and not just from the cold. </i>

    “Weak,” he snarled at him, his sole digging into his face. “You can’t even transform, you’re so pathetic. You want to be a warrior? You want to prove yourself weakling? Then transform you worthless scum!”

    Lorcan pulled himself out of the memory, his fists clenching. “Bog off,” he snarled.

    He breathed in and out through his nose, steeling himself. Then he glanced over. Acyn, Sahar and Quin were staring at him with ridiculously innocent curiosity in their eyes.

    ”What?!”, he barked at them. “Can’t you see the room is filling up with flipping lava? Concentrate!”

    That blasted dog was still refusing to come up to Acyn and Sahar. And the lava was creeping ever closer.

    Lorcan rolled his eyes. “I always have to do the work around here.”

    He teleported from his spot on the wall, appeared beside the dog and snatched him up.
    “Hold on,” he said sarcastically and teleported back The dog yelped as they reappeared hanging sideways from the wall.

    As his feet planted themselves on the wall, his mask fell off, tumbling into the molten lava beneath him.


    Denali Christianson


    Niarok walked down the dank, silent hallway. He coughed.

    How is it moist and dusty at the same time?

    Something felt off.

    Like someone was watching him.

    His neck prickled and he shifted Yila in his burning arms.

    I can’t do this.

    Then the floor shook, almost as if a wall was moving a level beneath him.

    A loud, strangely metallic voice echoed, “No animosity? I was starting to enjoy the assassin and the princess’ squabbling. I suppose I’ll have to find another way to amuse myself.”

    Niarok jumped, then growled and hoisted Yila over his shoulder so he could draw his sword. She whimpered.

    “Just trying to keep you from dying.”

    Niarok could have sworn Yila slapped him from her sack of potatoes position on his shoulder.

    But he froze before he could chuckle.

    Were those voices?

    Yes. Definitely.

    And they were coming from beneath him.

    “She’s right” the weird strange voice boomed. “This is no time to be dramatic. In fact, there is no need.”

    Who’s she?

    Perverse laughter filled the air, coming from somewhere above him.

    Niarok gripped Yila viciously as the entire room shook, and his knuckles turned white on the hilt of his bared sword.

    What was I thinking? Coming into this castle was a terrible idea!

    Niarok grunted, setting his feet.

    He couldn’t afford to fall.

    An explosive crack ripped the air, followed by a hair-raising amount of screaming from somewhere below him.

    Niarok leaned his shoulder on the wall, trying to stay upright.

    Another bang rent whatever was left of the tense silence, and the entire floor tore open inches from Niarok’s feet.

    He threw himself backwards against the wall, careful to keep Yila’s prone form from slamming into the rock before him.

    The laughing continued.

    Niarok cursed. This was not what he had envisioned as the product of the word “shelter.”

    He pursed his lips.

    “Seconds of hesitation make the difference between life and death.”

    Niarok pictured his father’s face as he wielded the sword.

    “Fine then, dad.”

    Niarok dumped Yila on the tiny ledge between the wall and the crevice and swung his pack off his shoulder, fishing around inside while scanning for the source of the laughter and continued shaking.

    Then his hand made contact with the rope.

    He somehow managed tie the rope around Yila’s prone form and lower her to the surface below the crumbling floor.

    There was a crackling noise.

    Niarok turned around and found the wall behind him somehow moving toward him. In seconds it would throw him off the edge.

    Without hesitation he threw his end of the rope at the base of the wall.

    Moments later the rope was jammed under the oncoming rock structure.

    Please don’t let it slip out from underneath!

    Niarok swung the pack over his shoulder, gripped his sword in his left hand, and grabbed the rope with the other. His only goal was to not land on top of Yila at the bottom.

    The wall reached the edge. Niarok slid down the rope, grimacing at the burn in his hand.

    Seconds later he set his feet on more shaking rock.

    Intense heat burnt his face as he took in the scene around him. A huge jagged hole occupied the floor a few feet away from his and Yila’s landing pad, and he could see an orange glow emanating from the depths of it.

    A tall man a bit older than Niarok glared steadily into the heat with the look of a ferral mountain lion about to kill something, and a strange man appeared out of nowhere hanging sideways along the wall, gripping a strange dog.

    Niarok raised an eyebrow.

    The strange man’s strange mask fell off, down into the orange glow, revealing a handsomely scarred face.

    Niarok raised the other eyebrow.

    Then the other angry man turned to glare at Niarok.


    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir

    Rusted Knight

    Project Kelpie. Klein remembered the day is started. He had just finished his first dozen missions as a Marine Raider when they came to him. The brass wanted enhanced soldiers. They were very clear with the term. He had asked. The Super Soldier mentality falsely led men to believe they were invincible. The enhancements made you tougher, not immortal. The first batch had already finished but they needed more. Klein volunteered. He later learned what a kelpie was.

    Why he remembered at this moment he didn’t know. But he remembered his training. To one side was a wall closing in. The other was a rift in the floor and ceiling. Looking down, he saw a red glow. Inside his helmet, an alarm began to chirp. Sulfur was detected and the amount was rising. Lava. The only way out was up. It would be easier with a cable gun but Klein had been prepared for an asteroid battle.

    Twisted steel hung over the crevasse. Ripping out a half dozen pieces. Gripping one backward in his hand, Klein fired up his thrusters and charged the wall. The rod sank deep into the stone. Pulling himself up, Klein looked around. The others were climbing up steadily on their own path. Balancing himself with the thrusters, Klein stabbed another rod into the wall. Pulling up onto it, he repeated the process.

    Now at the top of the ceiling, Klein gripped the opening and pulled himself over. someone was already there trying to help the other up. Behind of him was a jungle. And vines. Drawing his knife, Klein cut a length from a tree and threw it over the edge.

    “Grab on!”

    The remaining people gripped the vine and Klein pulled. They weren’t so heavy but the footing made it harder. The vine began to snap. Klein quickly wrapped the weakened part around his hand several times.

    “No you don’t.”

    With a final pull, Klein had the others up. Kelpie. A monster that took the form of a horse to lure the weary traveler. Once on its back, the kelpie would bolt to the water and reveal its true draconic form and eat the traveler. Much like Klein and the other enhanced soldiers. Human in appearance hiding their power to hunt their prey.

    The Devil saw me with my head down and got excited. Then I said Amen

    Denali Christianson


    I’m confused. Is Klein in the same castle as everyone else?

    "The light perceives the very heart of the darkness." -Haldir

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