入賞者: He Remembers FreezedZeart作
Through the years that were mixing in time until they lost all meaning. He remembered.
Images of her first owner, since he was little more than a baby and knew little things about the world.
Years filled with routine, years filled with happiness.
He remembered his owner getting excited when she saw images of others like her on screens.
He remembered when the world itself fell apart.
He remembered the chaos, the people running and screaming, his owner doing everything in her power to save him. He remembered when the monsters started to appear.
He remembered when cities were built again, when his owner and her little daughter found a peaceful life again even though the monsters kept coming.
He remembered the first attempts to fight back, he remembered the failures, he remembered the faces he never saw again.
He remembered the day his owner left everything to her daughter, the day a different owner began to take care of him.
He remembers every change his home went through, he remembers the day his old home sunk into chaos and they had to escape once again.
He remembers every face that comes into his owner’s forge, every face of the warriors who seek to better their equipment, every celebration for a new victory, every word of encouragement for a new lost battle.
He remembers the friends of his two owners, their smiles, their sad or angry faces.
He will remember.
Every new face, every new challenge, every new success, he will be in the forge, enjoying a delicious meal while waiting for the return of every face he meets.
Of course, he has a name, recorded in his memory as his most loved moment in all history, the day his owner had called him Hector the Turtle.
入賞者: Drinks in the Bar AksanDotDev作
“So, it knows! It knows! It doesn’t have a hope if it just comes at me,” boasted a Slayer to his small crowd as Lova made her way past to her seat. “So this coward! This coward! It uses a portal.” A drink was slammed to punctuate this and cue the crowd to gasp and murmur.
Lova took her seat across the table from the Doctor as a drink was slid across to her. The two women smiled to each other, mutually amused by the tall tales from the other side of The Broken Blade as Lova took a few swigs of the offered drink.
“I’m not sure any report of mine can top his stories, Doctor,” Lova offered once she settled, laying a leather bound journal on the table along with her lantern.
“But I can learn far more from them,” Priyani replied warmly, “Did you find it?”
“I did, and you were right, sounded just like gunshots when it froze the trees,” Lova replied as the Doctor opened up the journal and began to read, “Sadly as you’ll see, I wasn’t the only one.”
“Yes. Brash, Foolish, Unprepared and Cowardly? Really?” she asked with a disapproving shake of her head.
“Protecting their identities, if you read further you’ll see why they should probably not be named.”
“Can you not use something less flavourful?”
“Perhaps, but these make sense. Take Brash for example, leading the group towards the sounds of gunfire.”
“If you insist. What of the Variant?”
“Oh yes, dear Frostie!”
“Frostie was definitely forming the archipelago. It dragged the island in with the vines basically as you said it would.”
“Yet the Bosun radioed in about the island falling.”
“Oh, yes. I was going to get to that. When we pushed Frostie back they retreated and seemed to drain the island of aether before the vines pulled back.”
“Interesting. Suggests it can harvest an island quickly but only if it has to. My students will be theorising for weeks.”
“Do I see the glimmer of a paper in your eyes?”
“The Deepfrost Koshai–”
“Froshai,” Lova interjected. Priyani seemed to take a moment with her drink, gathering the strength to continue.
“The Deepfrost Koshai alone would be worthy of a paper. This concept, rapidly draining an island, would shift our thinking considerably if it pans out.”
“Well, you’ve the lantern data there,” Lova said gesturing, “You can make more sense of it than I could ever hope to.”
“And I tore the wretched thing’s leg clean off! Clean off!” boomed the Slayer to a growing crowd, “And then I tore off every other leg of the vile thing!” The crowd cheered and many drinks were raised and splashed.
“All six of them?” Lova yelled across the noise, barely holding back a laugh.
“All six of them!” he cried valiantly, “All six of them!” The crowd was almost unbearably loud by now. Their jolities kept the spirits high as their orator paused to down yet another beer he hadn’t bought.
“Don’t encourage him. It’s tough enough teaching new Slayers their Shrikes from their Skraevs without more misinformation.”
“I would suggest you stop recruiting from his audiences,” Lova rebutted with a smirk, “Or at least wait until they sober up before letting them out on their own.”
“Were they that bad, your …”
“Brash, Foolish, Unprepared and Cowardly?”
“Oh yes, they were. You see, Unprepared turned up in full volcanic plate swinging a Winter Squall. You might want to have one of your students pay him a visit by the way; he brought you back some samples.”
“Samples?” Priyani asked, leafing through the notes to find mention.
“Three frost thorns, embedded in his chest. Gave Cowardly an excuse to hide and play medic though.”
“But you didn’t get me the antlers?”
“Sadly not. I took them off, worked like the base Koshai, destroyed the thorns. But I had the choice between bringing them back for you and bringing Foolish back.”
“Couldn’t Foolish walk?”
“To my ears at least, broke three ribs when the tail swipe hit her, and a femur after landing against the tree.”
The Doctor looked away down into her drink, her features twisted slighty on her face.
“Oh, and the tree.”
“She broke the tree too.”
“Anything interesting about the variant?” Priyani asked, hoping to get this conversation back on track.
“You mean you don’t want to hear about how Brash wet their greaves and then had to confess in the airship that the cold had frozen it and –”
“No, I don’t.”
“Fine,” Lova said, playfully sticking out her tongue to a far from playful response. “It’s smart. The first thorn pod it threw down was right on top of my axe to stop me picking it up. The second and third cut off Unprepared and Cowardly. It pushed Brash back once it saw he was less mobile, bullied him into the thorns.”
“It identified him as less mobile?” the Doctor asked, “Interesting.”
“Saw him pull in with his chains and then have to run back out. Honestly, some masterful control.”
“I told you I’d find you a worthwhile fight. Did you manage to break anything else? Any samples at all?”
“Oh. Yes!” Lova answered, suddenly rummaging in her bag for something before producing it.
“A bramblespur? From this variant? It doesn’t smell like it’s fresh.”
“No smell at, Frostie was pretty much scentless.”
“It looks to me like a regular bramblespur though, and it certainly took after the regular Koshai. Regrew the limb without any issue.”
Taking the breakpart Priyani turned it over in her hands for a while.
“Ah, the last note I needed to make for myself. When I broke its leg it was about to enrage, no leaf storm but it was a hell of a blizzard Frostie was starting.”
”–I picked it up,” the booming voice cut across, “And I tied that corrupted worm in a knot! In a knot!”
Priyani’s face thunked against the table, defeated.
入賞者: Admiral dot_E-X-E作
Blue sparks flew from the tip of Janek Zai’s welder as he bonded the final pieces of the repeater barrel together. The thick leaves, the slender steel barrel, and intricate green etchings gave it an elegance that betrayed its immense stopping power. With a satisfying thunk , the barrel slid into place, connecting it with the rest of the repeater. A slight smile curled at the corner of his mouth as he grabbed the other finished firearm and turned to face his customer. Before him was a tall woman with auburn hair swept to one side. She was outfitted in a sleek blueish-grey coat adorned with pouches and metal pauldrons, as well as high boots and lengthy gloves, each fitted with metal plating. It would have passed off as leather were it not for the distinct yellow spikes mounted to the metal plating - a clear sign that her clothes were crafted from the pieces of a fallen Nayzaga.
“Here,” he said, carefully handing her the finished repeaters. “This…is a powerful weapon. It could likely punch through a Skarn’s armour in a single shot”.
With a flick of her wrist she gives the repeaters a quick spin before drawing them and aiming off to the side. “Yeah, well, here’s hoping. There’s been an uptick in Rockfall Skarn recently, and well. Someone’s got to keep the population in check, you know?”
Zai nodded his head in agreement, “Rockfalls aren’t much more difficult than a normal Skarn. And if you’re capable of taking on a Kharabak, I’m sure you’ll have no trouble with those walking boulders”.
She gave him a warm smile as she holstered her repeaters. “Thanks. That means a lot. I better get going though. Until next time, Admiral!”, she cheered as she joyfully strolled off towards the town square. He gave her a subtle wave as she walked off, but after a few seconds he began to stare into the distance. Admiral. He clung onto that title for dear life, but to continue calling himself that would be lying. He no longer commanded a fleet, and he had ceased all communication with the Zephyr teams shortly after the Triumvirate’s coup of Ostia. He didn’t command anyone, wasn’t in charge of anything. These days, all he did was craft repeaters and grenades for the Slayers of Ramsgate. Why did he define himself by what he no longer was? As he dwelled on this question, he began to lose focus of his surroundings as memories of times past began flowing…
Some of the memories flew by, fuzzy and scattered. Running home excitedly after another boring day of school. Spending his afternoons toiling away in his father’s workshop, fine-tuning repeaters with his father. His mother telling him for the hundredth time that he should follow his family’s legacy and join the Ostian Navy.
Memories go by quicker. He’s older now, more experienced, more mature. He spends his day working hard at school and working even harder at home on his designs. As he prepares the table for dinner, his mother walks in the door elated and gives him a painfully tight hug. He’s confused for a second, but then he looks down at what she’s holding. A letter adorned with the symbol of the royal Ostigrad Navy. He’s been accepted.
Time flashes forward once more. A ceremony is taking place, celebrating several talented individuals who had helped defend the city from a recent Behemoth onslaught. Many of these individuals had received promotions, The now-admiral Janek Zai among them. He looks through the crowd and sees his parents, both of whom are shedding tears of joy. Though he retains decorum and shows no emotions, anyone close to him would have seen the faintest smile creep across his face.
The memory shifts. A bolt of lighting crashes right near the ship’s starboard. Dark clouds swirl violently, and the wind threatens to tear the ship apart, piece by piece. Admiral Zai grapples with the wheel, fighting the storm itself for control of his ship. His first mate attempts to relay navigational data, but it’s clear the ship has been blown wildly off course. Torn chunks of islands are scattered about, flying past the ship. A pine tree flies through the air, slicing through the mainsail. A falling boulder takes a chunk out of the hull. Admiral Zai does his best to avoid the debris, but it’s coming from every angle. Suddenly, a thick tree trunk flies in from seemingly nowhere, piercing the hull and severely damaging the engine. The ship slowly begins losing thrust and altitude. Though he knew the ship was going down, he still hung onto the wheel. He hung on and did his best to make a smooth landing. Even as the ship tore apart and crashed, not once did he let go.
“Excuse me?” came a voice from in front of him. He snapped out his daze, noticing a shorter man with spiky green hair, clad in a Gnasher fur coat and holding two bags of materials. “I was told you could help me make some grenades”? Janek Zai nodded and went to grab his tools. He vividly remembered the day he woke up in the Ramsgate infirmary. He had been out for a while and missed the beginning of the Triumvirate’s coup. He did his best at first to maintain what order he had left, and attempted to remotely lead the Zephyr strike teams, but that fell through soon enough. But though he had lost his fleet, it had allowed him to focus on crafting more exquisite weapons for the fight against the Behemoths. Would he ever regain his formal title of Admiral? Maybe, maybe not. He knew one day he would have to return to Ostia and help pry away the Triumvirate’s grasp. But for now, he was doing work he loved, helping people who needed his help and fighting for a noble cause. For now, at least, that was enough to make him happy.
入賞者: Wils Bormen Sues a Literal Child TheGubbys作
It’s a warm summer day in Ramsgate. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Slayers are equipping themselves to go fight yet another barrage of Behemoths, all to keep Ramsgate safe.
The sound of footsteps can be heard throughout the scattered isles, as Slayers run wild. Some searching for trinkets, yelling and screaming in frustration, missing the last piece of some puzzle. Others crafting new gear or exotic equipment that they stumbled upon while exploring the hunting grounds. There’s always something new and exciting to do in Ramsgate. Except if you work a hot forge all day, crafting said equipment for the brave Slayers.
The creaking floorboards give way as someone steps up onto the wooden floor of the forge, standing by to wait for the town’s only weaponsmith.
“What brings you to the smithee, sla-“ Wils starts, turning around from the forge, looking at the small girl standing before him. She holds out an Emberhorn, smiling happily up at the large man, towering above her.
“What have we here…?” he asks, crouching down to be eye to eye with the small child, taking a look at what she’s holding. Sure enough, it’s an actual piece of an Embermane’s horn, quite fresh, no less. Perhaps one of the Slayers had dropped this while running through Ramsgate, he thought to himself.
“Did you see which Slayer dropped this?” he asks, picking up the tiny horn betwixt his muscular fingers.
“What do you mean? I got that all on my own!” she says, continuing to smile at Wils, who wasn’t buying it. He gives off a hearty laugh, before taking hold of the small girl’s hand.
“I see… I admire your interest with Behemoths, but it is not courteous to lie to your eld-“ Wils starts before getting cut off by the girl, whose smile faded as quickly as it came.
“I’m not lying!” she shrieks like a shrike, very unhappy with his accusation. Some nearby Slayers turn their head at the sound, a couple putting their hands on their blades. Wils uses his arm to wipe his forehead of sweat, before sighing. He decided to play along with the girl, for now.
“Alright little one, what may I do for you today?” he asks, standing up and taking a step back towards the forge.
“I want an Ember Cutlass!” she says, her smile returning. Wils did not share this smile, however. Even if she wanted the Embermane’s blade, she didn’t even have the required materials or money presented to make it! She was also a child.
He tried to calmly explain to her that she’d need more materials than that, and maybe wait a few years before putting her life on the line out at the frontier. She insisted that the horn alone should be enough to craft a sword in her size, but he stood fast, unbudging to the rising rage of the child before him. After a few minutes, a sizable crowd had gathered out front, fully interested in following along but none willing to step in.
Her face turned red with embarrassment, when she turned and realized the many people staring at her. This was truly a unique sight to behold. She turned to leave, but not before saying one last thing to the smithee. “Fine, I’ll just go make my own then!”
On her way through the crowd, a few of them offered her the materials needed, others offered the entire weapon; but no. She was very adamant about making her own weapon.
The next day
“I await your imminent return!” the proud smithee says, smiling warmly at his customers, who just got their hands on an Existential Crisis! The weapon, of course. We hope they’re alright.
Wils returns to the forge, or so he was planning to, before being interrupted by the sound of small steps coming up on the forge’s floor. “What brings you to- Oh. it’s you again.”
And indeed it was. The familiar small child stood before him yet again, this time with a smug grin on her face, standing proudly with her hands behind her back. A few Slayers had already gathered to watch what came next, as they had been present during yesterday’s predicament.
He gives a heavy sigh, before crouching down to the girl. “I thought I made it clear I wouldn’t be making you the sword. I’d be putting shame on my family back in Ostia.” He said, trying to put the girl down quicker than yesterday. It did not work.
“I’m not here to ask you to make me a sword… I made my own!” she says, pulling out what appears to be a very crudely made, stitched together, small version of the Ember Cutlass. It was pretty sad, actually. His first thought was “Wow, that’s terrible,” but then he remembered it was made by a child. Of course it was nothing compared to his finely crafted blades, that no other smith in the world could compare to.
He laughed, and so did a few of the Slayers. Some applauded the girl for the sheer audacity she was extruding. She looked smug, holding her little dagger so proudly as she could. Wils could not ignore this atrocity though. This slap to the face. This mockery of his skills as a weaponsmith.
“I don’t need all those fancy materials to make a blade just as good as yours!” she says, waving it around, stabbing and slashing the air in front of her. The blade just barely hanging on tight enough to prevent a Slayer from getting knocked out cold.
Silence fell upon the forge, as three heavy steps went towards the girl. The Slayers all stopped and stared towards the large man towering over this tiny creature. “You’ll be hearing from my lawyers.”
入賞者: The First Hunt SirLagunaLoire入賞者
She heard the thunder first.
There was a storm, a weird storm. She felt the aether moving between the isles. In her short life, she learned to instinctively follow this energy current to safety and food. But it was different this time, something odd was happening. Cautiously, she left her burrow and saw the exact moment when the lightning struck over one of those flying things.
It was an airship. Not that she, a lesser Gnasher, would understand the name. But she knew what it meant. The humans were in there. Everytime one of those flying things got near, other creatures like her ended up dead. Then, something fell off it.
The airship flew over her. There was no doubt. The humans, Slayers of Behemoth, knew she was there. But that wasn’t a problem, at least not yet. They wouldn’t dare trying to get near the shattered isles while the storm was raging on. The lesser Gnasher had the chance to look for the falling thing. Maybe it was food. Maybe it had aether she could absorb. But mostly, she was curious.
Slowly, she started walking in the middle of the storm. The aether around confused her senses a little, but felt a little excited. She was still young and discovering her strange world. In her short life she learned to hide from bigger Behemoth and from the human Slayers, but always felt the need to discover what else was there. Right now, the storm would keep threats away from her. This was her isle now. Only smaller creatures roamed the land and she could crush them easily with her mighty tail.
Suddenly, she felt that something was wrong. Didn’t hear it or smell it before because of the aether storm, but now she knew there was something else near. It couldn’t be a Behemoth. Too small. Then she heard a fight, something was fighting other creatures. Did a human venture into the storm? No, impossible. Was this the thing that fell off the airship?
For an instant, she felt fear, started to turn around, ready to run to her burrow, but something stopped her. She smells it. It’s a human after all. The smell of their skin and the steel of their weapon filled her brain. This made her angry, really angry. The Gnasher started to run, but not toward her burrow. She was running toward the Slayer. To danger and possibly death.
This was absurd. She knew the human was not prey, they could cut her in half with their sword, but that didn’t matter. She doesn’t know why, but the only thing she desired now was to kill. She had seen before how other Behemoths, much more powerful than her, rushed against a squad of Slayers. She understood now. It was unavoidable. Fighting the humans was in her nature.
Then she saw him, running towards her with the same passion she had. The Slayer jumped with the giant sword unsheathed, but the Gnasher didn’t move. She expected to feel pain when the steel touched her flesh, but she didn’t. She knew she was hurt, but didn’t feel anything, just the need to kill the invader.
Using her hind legs, the Gnasher jumped towards the Slayer, rolled in the air and tried to squash him with her enormous tail, but the human avoided the attack and swung the sword again, but the Behemoth was faster than he thought. The tail hit him by his side and sent him flying against a tree.
She was all aggression. No pain. No fear. Just burning rage. Her tail kept swinging left and right, destroying all the trees and rocks around. But the swordsman is clever and skilled, avoiding most of the attacks while hurting the angry Gnasher.
Then it happened. The Behemoth finally felt something. Her injuries were too big and the aetheric energy was leaving her body. She still felt the need to kill the invader, but she was dizzy. Her next attack was slow and missed the human. Where was he? She couldn’t find him. Suddenly, fear again. She needed to run away, go back to her burrow, but it was too late. She felt a sting on her leg. Pain, there it was. Several feet away, the Slayer’s sword was shining. Arcs of energy hit her again and again. Then she fell.
It was over. She knew her short life was gonna end soon. Damn human! Why did he have to invade the shattered isles? But then she felt calm. She played her role. Other Behemoths will find that Slayer. He’ll fight them again and again. There was no end to his life of struggle. But she could rest and never feel that burning rage again.
The storm disappeared as suddenly as it came. The airship finally got near to the land and the Slayer got aboard. He couldn’t wait to create a piece of armor with the parts of the Behemoth he just slayed.