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 WRITING CHALLENGE #10, 3 SEPTEMBER - 17 SEPTEMBER
CRIM
 Posted: Sep 3 2016, 05:30 AM
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mage hoarder
51 posts
23 years
Non-Combatant


Writing Challenge #10


Dust off those fall clothes and get set for another bi-weekly writing challenge here on Unbound. We hope you've enjoyed your summer break but time marches ever onward. If you have any questions about the changes or the challenge generally, feel free to PM me on this staff account.

Prompt: How does your character handle the changing of the seasons? Does the thought of jumping into a pile of leaves fill them with glee and spark pleasant childhood memories, or did they live in a Circle and discover this whole 'weather' phenomenon later in life? Write up something that captures their experience of the changing season and post it below.


Submissions should be at least 400 words, but more is always welcome if inspiration strikes. Write from any format or POV of your choosing! This challenge will end September 9th at 11:59pm and will have an award of 200 sovereigns.

Reply below with your challenge submission to earn credit for this challenge!
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CRIM
 Posted: Sep 8 2016, 12:07 PM
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mage hoarder
51 posts
23 years
Non-Combatant


Still accepting entries until the 17th!
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BENOÎT
 Posted: Sep 14 2016, 09:13 AM
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CAT
362 posts
42 years
Warrior


WINDS OF CHANGE
It gets colder.

Each day that passes stands as a reminder of what's to come, the ship pushing sluggishly through water that would soon be ice. Days long journeys turning to weeks turning to months spent avoiding coastlines because there was always a chance that making port, next, would be for the final time before the first snowfall. Air already nipping, his crew shouldering their complaints though frost bitten cheeks and cracking, chapped lips say what they've learned to swallow. For all the sunlight overhead, the shift in seasons is not something to be ignored. A gentle, loving mistress, the sea was not. Callous in her ancient omniscience and testing the will of weak men.

With a quiet reverie he makes the call. Eyes towards the horizon, following the trail left by merchant vessels over the decades with their rivets in the waves. They're channels known with an intimacy that brings the Captain to the ship's bow, eyes to match the sky with how they bled between intensity and a calm there'd never been word for. Breaths of cool air, each stippling skin that small bit further before the racket of men served a needed distraction that pulls Benoît back from the edge.

No one celebrates the turning of the leaves like Orlais.

He is pompous... a crass man with a swollen ego, striding amidst masked nobles too absorbed in the passing off of baubles to take heed for the viper in their garden. Tall and silent, clad in velvet rich as pouring blood and leather like the coal lumped behind his caging ribs—there is nothing stood between Benoît and his target but the sentient statue of the Maker's Bride, overlooking a marketplace the servants tended heavily for the sake of sparing a Duchess the discomfort of cracking a decaying leaf beneath her heel. For why waste what can be worn? Women dressed in reds and golds, a sprig in one's hair and fanned fronds in another.

His pause is warranted, the taste of maple in the air provoking the flick of his tongue over salt kissed lips. A scent that brokers familiarity and sours his thoughts.

Margeaux always took preference over the seasonal changes. Lackluster attempts to parade about, dressed as though more important than she was (as all did). Dress him to match. Tether his brothers along beside them until they faded together into the train of her gown. An accessory that'd never paid off. Never seen nor heard lest noteworthy enough for the tapered pedestal passed around during galas he hadn't understood the meaning of until later in life. Hadn't understood the function of their costumes and the camouflage they mimicked until now.

No one celebrates the turning of the leaves like Orlais.
And for that, he is rewarded.

No one saw the man fall, he had been quick and proficient... taught by the best. All of those colors. The rich fragrance adrift to distract. There was wonder spared, ever brief, for how long it would take someone to notice all of that blood. But wonders were for a trip far away. Wonders were for the northern lands and their sweltering offering of everlasting warmth. No dying canopy overhead or flickers of a promised frost.

Pretty as a painting, as the saying goes, but no more tolerable than the threat of a sell-sword with more information than he knew what to do with. A man whose life stained work worn hands, now, unphased and uncaring, Benoît wore the evidence of his crime with the knowledge that blind eyes were a favored attribute during soirees such as these. None would make the scene to ostracize themselves if they could help it. Guards too preoccupied to do their jobs, overlooking a man wanted for treason because women—even those of noble birth—knew how best to pour their breasts from atop their gowns for the attention they craved. A country of leeches, the thought curling the grin worn the rest of the trek.

Bells weren't heard until boots fell firm upon the Griffon's deck, curious glances from his crew earning a crooked expression from their Captain before teeth took to an apple speared upon his hook, liberated from the cart of a merchant peddling everything but what it seemed. "I always enjoyed..." He was flourishing with his hand, cheek protruding with the gathering of the fruit's meat while he spoke, "all of this." Lies. A forked tongue laving over his plundered prize. "And I always thought...what these apples were missing—" A swallow harsh as the sudden breeze, kicked up to tousle hair into eyes turned dark with murky satisfaction, "...was a nice bottle of Antivan brandy to chase them down!

DRAW ANCHOR, LADS!! WE HEAD NORTH!!"

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LIVIUS ERIMOND
 Posted: Sep 15 2016, 03:38 AM
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paradise

The sharp winds of the Western Approached whipped up spirals of sand from the dusty desert, sending it cascading onto anyone who might pass by. The dried out husks of death's trees, somehow surviving even in this arid wasteland, creaked as the winds picked up at night, tugging at them with all its might, bringing some to the breaking point, while others stood firm against it. Creatures untold howled in the darkness of night and whimpered in the scorch of day, and the Abyssal Rift seemed to pulsate in the distance like a gaping wound, with bile oozing out from within.

And Livius asked himself - how was this different from summer?

The wasteland remained a wasteland in the face of the changing seasons, indifferent to the movements of the sun or the inhabitants of its steppes - few as they were. There was no turning of the leaves here -- nor any leaves to turn, in truth; whatever was green in this pit, remained its faded green all year. It was as though time stood still, frozen in those breathless moments following the final swing of the sword, when all was death and ruin, and naught but a shaking breath was heard.

The garden behind his mansion would be an autumnal paradise now. All that stunning flora and fauna, imported from every corner of Thedas, blossomed in the fertile spring and summer, would turn to the most mesmerising decay; a rainbow of earthen colours, of brown and red and yellow, leaves dropping from trees that had done their part this year, and could return now to their slumber. The flora of autumn would awaken now, blossoming into reds like blood and the purest whites, while the black roses Allegra so adored would bloom everlasting, spurred on by her magic touch.

He remembered Rael running in that garden when he was just a tot, far from the man he was today; on short and uncertain legs, running gleefully through the falling leaves and throwing himself onto piles of it while his parents looked on. Allegra would make a futile and half-hearted attempt to stop him, calling, 'Rael, my love, please, you'll tear your clothes...' but letting her chiding end there, lest her firstborn son should get it into his head that he should obey her.

She would smile then, his beautiful beloved, and lean against him as he wrapped his arms around her and held her tight, breathed her in, the way her scent seemed to change from season to season. Sweet in spring time, vivacious in summer, sultry in autumn, and commanding in winter. His wife, the ever-changing, the ever-controlled, who would release herself to chance only here, only now, in his arms, in their home, as they watched their young child play.

Cyprian was still an infant then, sleeping in his cot in the conservatory, where the door stood open so they could hear his cries -- though a servant was always nearby, ready to tend to his every whim and desire. But Allegra still regarded the servants with a degree of distrust in those early years of parenthood; never a wet nurse to feed her hungry bairn, never a nanny to lull them into sleep.

It was different when they had all five, running amok in the gardens, as though autumn, with its breath of death, had breathed new life into them all. And yet their chiding had remained the same; short-lived and half-hearted. Could there be a greater delight in this world, or indeed a greater beauty, than watching your children fill with glee within an autumnal sanctuary?

There was no glee in these Badlands, no new life or life at all. The phoenix might lay its eggs, and the varghest might nurse its young, but what kind of joy could beasts bring? He could send a team to slay them in their infancy, and ship their leather and feathers to his beloved, so that she could order a dress made, or a hat, or matching costumes for little Cecilia and Cicero, and that could be their only purpose.

The twins would be taking their first steps in the gardens this year. He would miss it while he was here, in this wilderness where there was but one season.

The cause demanded it. His master commanded it. This was where he was needed, for all of their sakes. But in his mind... Oh, in his dreams, he was there with them, forever in that autumnal paradise, with his arms around his wife, and watching his children frolic. Save for what his master's new world would bring, there could be no greater joy in all of Thedas.
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CRIM
 Posted: Sep 17 2016, 09:16 PM
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mage hoarder
51 posts
23 years
Non-Combatant


This is now closed!

Thank you to both Cat and Birthe for your lovely entries! Don't forget to hit up the moderation thread to claim those points.

The next challenge will be up tomorrow, so keep an eye out.
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