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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Suspense Technique #3

The term "cliffhanger" embodies the concept of the 3rd Suspense Technique. It brings to mind visions of a main character (Sylvester Stallone, maybe?), dangling by one hand from the edge of a precipice. One wrong move, even a breath of wind, and your hero will plummet to a most unsavory death. And unlike the Coyote in the Roadrunner cartoons, this death will be pretty final. ;-) And on TV, the words "To be continued..." usually pop up at the worst possible moment leaving the main character in his/predicament (and you the viewer as well) until the next episode. Putting a character in peril is a great way to hook your readers. The 3rd Suspense Technique:
Certain genres are more conducive to this technique. Fantasy is certainly wide open for it. There are a couple of ways to pull off peril. One is obvious physical peril--an unsuspecting lass walking beneath a falling piano, a young guy racing his motorbike towards a gaping chasm, or as in The Door Within, a young hero being chased by a bad guy with two pointy swords.

There are also subtle ways to create peril. What you do is create implied danger. A menacing shadow, a stranger following the hero but staying just out of sight, the doctor looking at the hero's test results and shaking his head. I like this kind of danger because it allows the reader's imagination to go crazy. Lovecraft, the father of modern horror was a master of this. The villain you don't see is often scarier than the one you do see.

Here's an example:

1. Rachael stared at the gray expanse before her. Now that the bridge was destroyed, the web was the only way to cross the gorge and rescue her baby sister from the Varlocks. Rachel knew the web was strong enough to bear her weight. But, if it came to it, Rachael would gladly accept a quick fall and a painless death, smashed upon the rocks below. It was the alternative that concerned her more. The spider rumored to cling inverted beneath the web, waiting for the vibrations of something edible prancing upon her web--that was the fear. For death in the webs of this creature would mean long and slow, endless pain, as the creatures digestive fluids, cell by cell, consumed Rachael's flesh. Rachael clenched her fists and stepped out onto the web.

The contest and reward are the same for this technique. Good luck.


Anonymous said...

Jennifer seated herself comfortably at the head of the table. Everything had to be perfect at her birthday party. But sadly, her best friend Luke hadn't arrived. She believed it had something to do with her father, the King. He always expressed his ill will towards the boy...and just because he was a blacksmith!
The evening had gone well so far, but Jennifer felt that something wasn't right. Even though the torches lit the massive hall, her skin still tingled and crawled. The she saw the shadow behind her.
How did the guards let someone past them? Her eyes glanced to her father, obviously drunk with wine across the hall.
"Help." she whispered. The shadow behind her grew, and she heard a hoarse voice whisper in her ear,
"Just stand up and come with me and you won't be harmed."
She felt beads of sweat pour down her face. She carefully eyed the table before her, and spotted and pan full of food. Quick as a flash she snatched it up and swung it with all her might into the face of her stalker.
Instantly forty knights in black armor pured into the hall, and began to slay the innocent lords and ladies that had gathered for the celebration.
"You think I'm playing games?!" the voice behind her roared. He spun her around and rammed her against the wall. His large hands enclosed about her throat and she struggled for breath. She could feel her feet rising off the ground.
"No..." she hissed. "Please."
As he pinned her, the man stepped closer. A flicker of torchlight revealed the slightest facial feature.
It can't be!!!!!!
"Why?" she gasped. Why had he turned against her??!!

everlastingscribe said...

Nice use of a tray of food, Brett. I could see the hot food scalding her attacker.

And on an entirely random note, any one here find it harder to write the oppisite gender? Currently I have several male supporting characters around my protagonist who is female, and I find myself second guessing some of the things I write. Now the guys aren't polishing their nails ;) or doing each other's hair, but I still fret over some of the dialogue. So, if you don't struggle with this particular problem, how about sharing some tips?

everlastingscribe said...

Blinking against the thick brightness of the fog, Jeppa moved cautiously out over the half veiled stone archway beneath her feet. Wide enough for one person to walk comfortably over the surface, the path started to become steeper as it swung out over the great nothingness below.

Go straight over the tanglestones, straight over and don’t look down. Don’t run, don’t hurry, whatever you do, don’t linger over the abyss. There are things that live there, that nest there, that would consume you soul, mind, and bones if they had the chance Her brother’s words chased themselves around inside her head as she gathered her cloak a bit closer and tried to peer through the unrelenting white. The Prophet made his home in the high stones on the other side of the void, for he didn’t like visitors, but anyone desperate enough to cross the chasm and knock on his door was never refused aide. “For Ravid” she murmured, reminding herself as she wiped her sweating hands down the sides of her trousers. “For Ravid”.

The sound of her boots connecting with the stone seemed muted, swallowed up in the endless curtains of bleached vapor and she picked up her pace. She checked her chronometer, and swallowed, she’d been walking along the path now for nearly seven minutes and didn’t seem to be any closer to the other end then when she started. Maybe she’d gotten on the wrong path? Maybe it didn’t go all the way across, perhaps it coiled back on itself and she’d been going in circles? Softly somewhere below, the paleness stirred. Jeppa’s eyes widened as she watched the eddies lazily wind back on themselves. The fog ahead also became agitated, and she took several steps back as the air whirled in whiteness, and the soundlessness of the void rang in her ears.

Anonymous said...

I find it very hard to write in the opposite (female) gender...I only do it under rare curcumstances like switching viewpoints in a story.

Josh said...


well I also find it some what hard in the opposite perspective. although, i find it fun on occasion. At this particular time i am having trouble coming up with anything good at all so.... and i love your work scribe all i can say is keep it coming

everlastingscribe said...

Ah, you guys are the greatest. Actually this has been the hardest exercise for me so far, and I'm not all that happy with the finished product but after three rip-through edits I told myself the point of this is to see what works and what doesn't, it doesn't have to be perfect, and trying is so much better than not trying. And then I wound up cribbing off m'lord Batson quite a bit. But thanks for the encouragement :-D

Cecilia said...

Ooh, this one was fun! I like peril:-) I think mine is a little bit more subtle. I hope you guys like it still! Here goes:

Moonlight flickered off the surface of a wide river. On one side, the dense forest began to thin, leading into an open field. On the other side, the side where Glenn stood, was the thickest part of the forest. There, anything could be lurking, waiting for the right moment to attack. That was partly what worried him.
Then there was the fact that he couldn't swim, and he feared the river above all else. But the most troubling thought was that he had to cross the river, or life in the town across the field would cease to exist. But still, he sat at the base of a tree too affraid to move.
"They shouldn't have sent me!" he whined, but he knew they had no other choice. He lifted his face halfway to glance at the treacherous waters, but then he heard the sound. It was like many feet crunching twigs. It was getting closer, and he feared any minute now he would see torches, and feel the whooshing of arrows past his head. He knew he must move now.
Jumping up, he brushed pine needles off his back and strode towards the edge of the water. It didn't look too deep of too fast, but he knew better. Underneath the calm bubbling surface, it was a raging tide that would easily carry him to his death. But he saw a way.
Stepping carefully into the frigid water, he placed one foot on a large rock. it was slippery, but he kept his footing. There were many moore rocks pocking out of the water, and he thought he could make it by walking accross them. He was near the middle of the river when his plan went horribly wrong. An arrow flew with amazing speed and hit his unprotected shoulder. He screamed, and spashed into the river. He heard them talking in a strange language, and saw them turn and dissapear before his head went under.
Struggling to remain conscious through the pain and the cold, he splashed wildly, trying to find something to hold on to. Then, he slammed into something hard and wooden, a log! Gripping the log with his usable arm, he rested. But his luck didn't last long. The river began to move faster, and he heard the unmistakable roar of a waterfall ahead.
He gripped the log as tightly as he could, as he felt himself begin to drop.

As for the question of writing about opposite genders, I think it's easier to write about male characters, and I'm a girl. I don't know why, but I like reading and writing about male characters better. I'm different I guess:-p

everlastingscribe said...

Cecilia, nicely done! Gah, cold and dark and water, and not being able to swim, talk about the ''man I'm in trouble now'' feeling. And then getting shot with an arrow, boy howdy that's going to leave a mark! And then a waterfall. Sheesh!

amy said...

Anyone else having a tough time with this one? I feel like I may have covered peril in a couple of my other entries. I've hit a wall. (It's only a 4 foot wall, not the usual 10 footer.)

Anonymous said...

Yes! I can't seem to write another entry....every time I try I run into a dead end. Drats. Well, there's only 4 more techniques to go! *pant, pant*.......whew!

Josh said...

aaa tones of trouble, although I am almost finished with my entry.

Josh said...

Eliot ran through the dark and dank forest. Fog hung thick in the frosty night air. He tightened his grip on the broadsword and kept on running. The low underbrush scraped the sides of his legs. They were coming he could hear them. The heavy foot fall on the dry undergrowth. It was more than one this time, to many for his minute skill. A dark flash of armor appeared before him. The ghastly knight lashed out. Eliot’s broadsword flew up blocking the blow. With a swivel on his heel the sword weaved forth for another block. He pulled back his blade and carelessly swung forth. With a simple swipe a tall dark knight parried Eliot’s blow. He stumbled and fell to the forest floor. They circled around him, ten in total. The tall knight in black armor seemed to lead the group. He held his sword parallel to Eliot’s throat. There was a sinister laugh and he bellowed “what shall I do with the boy?”

well i have now worked on this for 2 days and i still don't like the outcome but its good enough.

everlastingscribe said...

Good on ya Josh! *Yay* And wow, I really caught the sense of speed and desperation that poor Elliot has. Love the ''with a swivel on his heel the sword weaved forth for another block"

As for hard, yeah, this one wasn't as easy as the first two.

Josh said...

yes much more difficult I cant wait for action (I hope it is a Technique) lol

everlastingscribe said...

I have no idea Josh if it is or not, :-D But this is a nice long run of exercises, I'm wondering what will follow these. . .

Josh said...

surly something more difficult and brain wracking ^_^ its better that way

everlastingscribe said...

LOL Agreed!

Anonymous said...

I had the worst time on this challenge. Whew how I love it when an idea hit you when your not looking for it. Maybe I ran into the other side of Amy's wall. :)

It is the year MD 150 and I Nenore write as the scribe under the service of my King.

The shadow is before us. And around us as far as the eye can see. I shiver for the fear I have of it. As we sit in wait in the mid-night by the river of Zazaran the company with me waits. We fear being spotted so no fire has been lit. Though I almost wish we had one more for the comfort then for the heat. I watch for the stars and moon but this nameless fear and shadow has consumed them. The darkest night is like noon day compared to our stalker. And Zazaran is like the tiniest trickle from a spout. My heart gains in pace for I feel it coming slowly but now it quickens. It is upon us now! It is here....

Josh said...

Sarmjornn I have become very familiar with this feeling you speak of and the idea never really hit me I just twisted my own arm till I said uncle and came up with my story lol

amy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amy said...

Oh - as far as gender goes in my writing. I think certain stories enter my mind and should be told from a female perspective and some from a male. I'm not sure why. I don't have any rules, but if the story I'm telling is of a boy, then I couldn't switch it to that of a girl. My characters almost tell me how to tell their stories, rather than me deciding. It sounds a little cuckoo, but it's the best way I can explain the gender issue.

amy said...

The envoy had succeeded in their mission to find the rare herbs which, blended skillfully by the village sage, would cure the child’s burning illness. Their only obstacle on the return home lay at the precipice of the very mountain they’d been climbing for two days. The rocky terrain and sudden downpours caused delays in the form of mudslides and fallen trees. The seven men trekked the remaining distance with great trepidation. All of them remembered vividly what had happened on their journey to the great grasslands of Elliseth. What had started as an envoy of eight had been reduced to seven because of what lay mere moments away: a chasm of molten rock and fire called the Ruin of Loss. The opening of the mountain had claimed many lives in its inferno. It was said that the screams of its victims were heard at the full moon. The mouth of the mountain belched lava into a pool nearly a mile across. The long journey back around the obsidian cliff was the route of the seven men. They had watched their companion slip from that same narrow path and fall far beneath the rim of the mountain into the churning blaze. He had slowly sunk to his death; skin melting off his frame; his hair ablaze from the intense heat. His cries for help and the image of his last agonizing moments had haunted the men during the quiet moments of their journey. As they approached the return trek around the beast, the men stopped in silent tribute to their friend and brother-in-arms. The bravest man and leader, Tabor, stepped one foot onto the rocky black path and looked back at his men; they all understood that he wished them well on their dangerous route.

everlastingscribe said...

Wow, that's a visual that is really intense Amy. :-D I knew there was a reason I wasn't over keen on volcanos and such. I wonder if they rest of them are going to make it?

Anonymous said...

I tried my hand at kind of fictional reality (I'm not sure what the proper term for it is.) Not my best, but it'll do.
Wolfgang was trembling. It wasn’t from the cold, or from fear of slipping and falling to his death, but from excitement. He was already halfway up the mountain and he still couldn’t make himself believe that he was really climbing Glossglockner, tallest of the Austrian Alps. He had hoped for this ever since that day so many years ago when he had first climbed the KitzbuhĂ«ler and caught his first sight of that faraway great summit and said to his father, “Papa, someday I want to climb that mountain.” And, after several years of mountain climbing, he, Wolfgang Laurenzia Geyling, was climbing Glossglockner with his father leading on the rope and his older brother following.
Then something happened then that would change his life. He stepped on a loose stone and fell into the new snow. This, on its own, would have no real impact on him. But the trouble was that he shouted as he fell. The small party picked themselves up and kept on going, thinking nothing to be wrong. But then they heard it. Or possibly felt it. A deep rumbling throughout the mountain. They saw it, also. A great white mass, hurtling down the mountainside, flinging great boulders and uprooting massive trees. One word flashed through their minds, sending cold shivers of fear running through their bodies.

Anonymous said...

Here's another go at peril. This technique was a little harder than the others.

Anonymous said...

It was twilight, and the sunset sent red and pink rays dancing gracefully over the tops of the immense trees that made up the Great Forest. A lone boy was picking his way through the underbrush. He shivered. It had been a cold day, too cold for the middle of summer. He wore a patched and faded green tunic, brown leggings, and matching boots. The boy's name was Zech, and he was on a mission.
Zech was an unusual boy. Strange occurrences weren't uncommon around him. He had powers, unusual powers. He could do things no other mortal could. He could control weather, change objects' color, and move things without touching them. This is why most people, being superstitious, avoided him as much as they could. All of his life he had been mocked, laughed at, and made fun of.He longed for someone to understand, to be a friend. But no one would.
There was a brotherhood, one of thieves, swindlers, and assasins. Everyone knew of it, but none spoke of it. Even the guards ignored its existence. No one knew who led it, but it was said to be a shadow, quiet as a cat, and quick as lightning. Zech needed some friends, and he knew he would find them there. But how? The answer had come that morning, in the form of a note.
The note had been pressed into his hand by another boy, by the name of Troy. It had instructed him to be in the center of the Great Forest at midnight, and he intended to do just that.
He always had felt a little uneasy in the Forest. Maybe it was the how the forest seemed devoid of life, no light could reach through the thick canopy of leaves above. Or maybe it was the way his footsteps seemed to echo off of the bare tree trunks, filling his ears until he was sure even deaf Aggoroth, the town priest, could hear it. But for some reason or another, this time was different. This time, he didn't just feel uneasy, this time, he was scared.
With the note clutched in his fist, he blundered through the shrubs, thorns clutching at his skin and clothes. He fought on and finally reached the path through the forest. This would at least lead him close to the center. As he walked on, his spine began to tingle. A sense of dread washed over him like a surging wave of ice cold water. Someone's watching me!, He thought. He dove into a bush and sat there watching, waiting. But nothing happened, nothing attacked him. Finally, he reached the point where he must leave the path. Looking furtively behind him, he slipped into the trees.
Zech's feeling of dread slowly grew as he walked through the forest. The trees were only a few feet apart and it was night now, so he could barely see his hand in front of his face. All of his senses were on alert now, every muscle tense and ready to run at the slightest noise. The only noise he could hear was the pounding of his heart and his own breathing. He heard a low whistling high in the treetops. Suddenly, a strong wind whipped through the trees and yanked him off his feet, slamming him into the ground. A blinding light seared his eyes as he struggeled to stand. He saw an angel, clothed in white, standing before him.
"Zech, chosen one, favored by the gods, turn back, or all may be lost. Turn back!" And then she vanished.
That must have been my imagination, Zech thought. Or was it? Suddenly he wasn't so sure about this idea after all. Still, his desire for friendship soon won out over his caution, and he ventured on.
He reached the center of the forest. I made it, he thought. That angel was wrong, I'm fine, and I'm finally going to have some friends. Zech walked over to a tree and rested against it to wait for someone to meet him.
A half hour passed and nothing happened. The sense of dread slowly stole over him, like a tiger stalking its prey. Maybe that angel was right, he thought. I shouldn't be here. Suddenly, the darkness intensified and seemed to press in around him. He heard whispering, as if carried on the wind. There was a rustling in the bushes. Something big, something menacing, rose up slowly in front of him. He cowered against the tree. The prescence stalked purposefully towards him, and the whispering stopped. He opened his mouth to scream, but no sound came out.

Unknown said...

His mind drifted back to his first sight of the ship. He and the others were being herded towards it, when movement in the front and cries of alarm filled his heart with dread.

He soon saw the reason for the alarm; the ship's prow was the head of a great and terrible dragon. The site alone was enough to strike fear in a grown man's heart; but when the dragon head moved unexpectedly, Mithrin felt a wave of raw terror sweep over him. Iridescent scales rippled along the sides of the boat and ended in massive sea-serpent of a tail. The large glassy eye blinked. The Drakkar was a living ship! Half boat, half dragon, Mithrin did not know where one began and the other ended.

They were forced into the dark belly of the Drakkar and shackled and chained in pairs to the oars. Here they rowed day and night, while the dragon's stomach acids ate away at their feet and burned their lungs with its stench.

amy said...

At the sight of the Captain’s lifeless body, all nine of the shipwrecked passengers stared suspiciously from face to face, trying to detect an inkling of guilt. One passenger, however, was trying not to portray his/her murderous motivations. But who would do such a thing?

Rations were running low and the island offered little food other than coconuts that grew atop sixty-foot palms. Sara knew that whoever the killer was, they were thinking the same thing that had crossed several minds since their shipwreck: if there were fewer passengers, there would be a better chance at survival for all those who remained. But murder was never an option that had entered Sara’s mind. She’d spent the last week scouring the island for animals, in hopes of some meat, while one of their number had been doing a different kind of hunting.

Terrified, Sara gazed from one face to the next. She could not imagine any of these people sinking to such desperate measures so soon. Mr. and Mrs. Harrison were elderly and neither looked capable of such brutality. Dr. Wilder had been helping the injured and tending the sick. Angela Moffit, the overworked financial advisor, had been so kind and assisted Dr. Wilder when she, herself, could muster the energy. Todd Walker had been doing his best to climb the tall trees and harvest as much food for the group as possible. Simon Nelson was an ex-minister and founder of several charities for underprivileged children. Belinda Moss was the eleven-year-old child of the Captain. Finally, Dylan Crosby had been an Olympic swimmer who donated a large chunk of money to build a school for the blind in the urban community he called home. All these people seemed the most unlikely to commit such a crime. However, the small island was definitely devoid of human life except for these eight other people. One of them was hunting; one of them was planning their next target as the rest of the group stood there in shock.

WayneThomasBatson said...

Wow, Eve, now this is imaginative stuff. Sailing within a live dragon ship...are you kidding me?? Suh-weet! Can't get much more peril than that.

Amy, love the veiled threat in this text. Kind of an Agatha Christie meets Lost--which by the way is a nice suspenseful combo.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Wayne! *blushing*

I love this nugget of an idea-it's going into my second book.

Glad to see your as excited about it as I am!

everlastingscribe said...

Amy, that is one outstanding piece of work! I don't want to any on that island to be guilty and I am definately hooked! Nothing like a murder to get the reader wanting to turn the page! Well done!

everlastingscribe said...

Eve, nicely done. I have read lots of stories about friendly organic ships, but this is a cool spin on one that isn't!

Amy Browning said...

Wow - thanks guys!

I enjoyed trying to step outside my comfort zone on this entry. I reread the description Wayne gave of Peril and tried to go for the mental, yet potentially physical type.

This has just been too much fun!


Unknown said...

Thanks, E.S.

Anonymous said...

Here's my "Peril" post (hope it's not too late):

Sarah was gone.

Bran didn’t bother with a cloak or shoes. The stones on the road cut his feet, but he only ran faster. He knew where she’d gone.

The sound of waves crashing against the nearby cliffs grew louder with each step. The misty air was thick with salt. He could taste it on his tongue.

“Sarah!” he cried. “Sarah, please! Hear me!”

There was laughter.


He glimpsed a shadow in the mist, the flick of a skirt.

“It’s so close, my love,” came her voice, muffled in the fog.

Then he saw her, running towards the cliff’s edge, towards the sea. He felt sudden panic well up in him.

“I’m so glad you’ve come.”

Bran’s throat closed as he watched her skid to a stop at the ledge, a giggle bubbling from her lips. Her feet knocked sand and rocks over into the black depths of the abyss below, where the sea churned in violent anticipation.

“Sarah! Stop!” he called.

She turned back with a smile that painted her features sinister in the shadows of the moonlight.

“Oh, Bran,” she said. “How you love me. Like a bird in a cage.” Then she flung her arms wide and spun on her heel.

“Come away, Sarah.” It came out as only a breath. His heart beat so hard it shook his chest. He reached for her. Terror blinded him. What had he done? His beautiful Sarah, he should never have brought her back to the sea. How could he have not seen this? Why had he not been more careful?

Sarah froze and hovered over the lip. Her body wavered. Her hair hung down like strings of amber seaweed, damp from the misty air.

“You know I can fly,” she said. “The waves are my wings. I could teach you.” He heard a smile in her words and it sent chills across his skin. She seemed to stop and listen. “Bran? Can you hear it? The stirring. They sing to me even now.”

“Please,” he whispered. But he could move no closer to take hold of her. Even as she teetered over the edge, even as her foot left its purchase, he stood frozen, arms outstretched.

Her skirts billowed, snapping with the sudden rush of air as she disappeared. The sound of the waves below grew deafening. A gull cried in the distance, or perhaps the cry was his own.


This "cliffhanger" was a bit from a published story called Sarah's Flight I wrote for AlienSkin mag. Might not count for the contest if it's been published, but I thought this fit the bill for tip #3 pretty well. :D

Anonymous said...

I love your post! Ethereal and scary--didn't know those two words went together, 'til now! Great story, even if all I got to read was a portion.

Anonymous said...

I'll try and throw in another entry here. This is an excerpt from a story I'm writin;, Dragonslayer.
It was a clear night. The moon reflected off the water. The sailors were in their bunks, the calm stillness of sleep upon them. The only sounds were the waves lapping against the side of the kardilung vessel and the occasional creaking of wood as the men rolled in their sleep. A kardilung is a large ship that is made with two closed levels that are made in the style of the tower of Babel. A third level is made with posts to hold up the canopy, but is open walled, for those people who can’t stand closed in places. It is a very large and well built type of Ronkaerian vessel. The Ronkaerians were master ship builders in those days. No one suspected a thing.
Then, of a sudden, the stillness was pierced by the watchman’s frantic shouts, “Kagrathonians, on the horizon, all hands on deck!” In two minutes the deck was a scene of chaos. Men ran everywhere. Some ran to grab their weapons, others had kept their weapons by their bedside and they ran to positions on deck, and still others just ran in circles. The officers tried to get order, but they got just about as many men under control as a snail would horses on a road in Rina, the capitol of Ronkaeria. Finally, the men settled down to wait for the Kagrathonians to arrive; a five minute wait that lasted forever.
The Kagrathonian ship drew nearer and nearer, until it was close enough to see the skin on the Kagrathonians’ bare chests. These Kagrathonians were berserk. Then, before anyone knew what was happening, the ship turned and the men of the kardilung could see the Kagrathonians holding grappling hooks and planks, grappling hooks and planks that would be used to board the kardilung.
The planks were placed from ship to ship and the grappling hooks flew and hooked on to the kardilung. The fight ensued. The men on the ship put up a good fight, much better than anyone expected, but they had a serious disadvantage. Most of the men on the ship had never been in an actual battle before, and the Kagrathonians were all seasoned fighters. The Kagrathonians soon gained the upper hand, and within the space of ten minutes, the men of the kardilung were all but defeated. They probably would have been too, if it hadn’t been for one monstrosity.
A spout of water ten feet high shot up, separating the ships. A monstrous head, the size of a full-grown man, came out of the water in between the ships. Its fist size, leaf green eyes glowed in the night. Then the head rose up, revealing a twelve foot tall neck. At the base of the neck was a body the size of the kardilung, and to either side of the body was a fin of length eight feet and width six feet. Both the Kagrathonians and the men of the kardilung stared up, petrified, at the aqua colored monster. They had awakened a sea dragon.

Unknown said...

The bare, gnarled oaks trembled as the wind wailed through the graveyard. In the sky, a dark turbulent cloud mass obscured the moonlight. With her flashlight’s beam piercing the shadows ahead, Mary dashed up the uneven path towards the old, stone chapel. Her heart pounding in her chest, Mary’s breath came in shallow gasps as she ran. The old church was her last refuge. Her pursuers must not find her.
Reaching the doorway, Mary grasped the handle and threw her weight against the massive wooden door. It wouldn’t budge! Grumbling under her breath, Mary lunged once more. It moved slightly. She knew one more blow would dislodge it. Then, as she prepared to assault the door a final time, Mary glanced back toward the graveyard. A cold ache seized her soul.
Barely discernable in the darkness, a black robed figure slowly approached. Its right hand held an unsheathed blade of steel. The figure paused and raised its cowled head. Its gaze rested upon her, and Mary felt as if a sword had struck her heart.
Mary heard the deep rasping voice in her mind, “You are ours.” The robed figure slowly began to ascend the hill. It crested the hill and raised the sword in its hands.
Panic rippling through her mind, Mary heaved her shoulder against the stubborn door once more, finally knocking it ajar. She rushed into the sanctuary. Her hand clutched the map beneath her jacket. Mary could hear Father Collins’ last words, “they must not get it!” echoing in her consciousness. Her eyes spied the cross upon the altar at the front of the sanctuary.
“Lord, help me!” she cried.

The Writer said...

Hue sped from the cold iron bars of his cell, turning around constantly to make sure they weren't following him. They wore masks over their faces, masks with skulls on them, so that when Hue would look into their eyes, he could see nothing. No emotions, no eyes, even. Just a hopeless void.

He turned the corner and stopped dead in his tracks. He could see the silhouettes of two figures, pacing and talking. He couldn't move for fear he would be discovered. They were talking.

"The boy knows nothing, my lord," said a man, the figure on the right, in a trembling baritone.

"Then he must die," said the other, a woman. Then she turned in Hue's direction. Her eyes opened wide. "And look at this, Hornet," she said. "He is here right now!"

Hue turned to run. "Guards!" the man he knew as Hornet shouted. The masked figures ran up right behind him, their blades at his neck.

"Send him to the snake," the woman commanded.

Hue's stomach dropped to his feet. The snake meant death, a horrible, painful death.

Hornet told Hue to march.

therosepatch said...

Mmkay... this was interesting. This is my first entry...EVER! :D I had fun, though I wasn't quite sure how to slip the idea of peril into it, but I tried. Enjoy:

Rough hands grabbed her arms, waking her from a fitful sleep riddled with nightmares. The scratchy ropes dug into her wrists like knives as she was pulled to her feet, and her whole body ached with the effort it took to stand. She stood there trembling, and when she opened her dry tired eyes, she remembered.

Three days ago she had been in her home, safe. Three days ago her family had been alive. Three days ago she never would have believed anything like this could happen to her.

But they had come. Ild'ril's monsters broke down their door without warning, and all in one fateful night she lost all she held dear. They had then brought her to this place, this dungeon cell, and for the past three days they neither fed her, nor gave her any water to quench her thirst. Instead, those three days had been spent in torture.

She looked up and her eyes revealed to her the very creature that had stripped her of her family, and her freedom. He stood a foot taller than her, and his rough black face looked to be carved from stone. His yellow eyes gleamed with hatred as he began to circle, like a vulture eying it's prey.

Her eyes followed the creature as it moved behind her. The back of her dress lay open now, no longer protecting her skin from the harsh whips. A wicked smile crept across the monster's face, as thought it seemed pleased with what it saw. She turned her head away and looked down at herself. Her arms were covered with burn marks, and the bottom hem of her dress was torn, revealing a mass of cuts and bruises that marred the once tender flesh.

A gravelly chuckle sounded from the beast behind her. “Have you had enough yet?”

“Why are you doing this?” she whispered, unable to speak any louder through her clenched throat.
“Are you not a follower of Malor?”

She firmed her chin, raising it high. “I am.”

“Ild'ril wants all of your people dead. He hates Malor, and so therefore hates his followers.”

“Then why not just kill me, and be done with it?”

She heard him begin moving again, and she turned her head around to watch him. She glanced down at his hands, only to see that they were empty. That was strange... he hadn't brought any torture devices with him this time. Instead of relief at this discovery, she felt a sense of sick dread.

“My lord usually picks one member out of each family he slaughters, and that one he prefers to kill slowly. It gives him pleasure to do as much damage as possible to one of Malor's servants before killing them.”

She swallowed hard, and her throat clenched tighter. She couldn't even imagine what could be worse than what she had been succumbed to the last three days.

“I don't see you with your whip, or your knives. What kind of torture can you do to me today without them?”

He stopped walking and stood in front of her again. “Oh, I've already had my fun.” He grabbed the ropes around her wrists, and pulled her through the door, and into the hallway. Her heart sank when she realized where he was taking her. “Today, it's Master's turn. He wants to see how long you will last before you either denounce this so-called Saviour of yours, or you die.”

Her stomach knotted with fear, and she closed her eyes. I will remain true to the very end, no matter the cost.

She stumbled along after the beast as he dragged her, her body screaming for a rest. When she began to feel like she wouldn't make it another step, she found herself standing before two large, black doors with skulls for door handles. She turned her head back to see the monster behind her, standing still with his arms folded in front of him.

The doors flung open and she raised her arms as a blast of hot air hit them. When it was gone, she looked up and peered through the darkness, and saw a lone, sinister figure standing in the middle of the room, waiting.

She lifted her chin and squared her shoulders, and without hesitation, Malor's servant entered Ild'ril's chamber.

therosepatch said...

Sorry it's kinda long...

Anonymous said...

These are all so amazing!

Lady Merewen said...

"What now, Gatekeeper?" I asked the loremaster. I was his apprentice in those days. I had just fetched an armful of scrolls.
The Gatekeeper made no answer. He paced back and forth behind his desk.
I don't know why he is called the Gatekeeper. That is just his title. I've never heard him called anything else.
"Gatekeeper?" I repeated.
"They are coming..." he whispered, running a hand through his long dark hair. He is ageless. I always thought it peculiar. "Coming..."
"Who, sir?" I asked.
Suddenly, he turned to me. "Follow me."
"Yes, sir," I said, setting the scrolls down.
"No, bring them."
"Yes, sir."
The Gatekeeper turned to the wall and pulled a torch from the wall.
The wall opened.
I stared.
There was a bashing on the entrance to the caves we lived in.
"Gatekeeper!" I said. "Who-"
"Hurry! Into the passage!" he commanded.
Of course, I obeyed. I always had.
The Gatekeeper closed the passage behind us, and everything was silent.
As we hurriedly walked down the long, winding passage, I summoned up the courage to ask, "Gatekeeper, who were my parents?"
"I do not know."
"You know things no one else does."
He looked at me, no expression in his dark eyes.
I swallowed. "You're the only one who knows."
"This is not the time for that."
Something crashed behind us.
I didn't care. I just had to know. "Who were they?"
"You are not ready," The Gatekeeper said, his voice rising thunderously in volume.
I almost dropped the scrolls. I had never heard the Gatekeeper lose his patience in this way.
He was afraid.
A new voice, dark and sinister broke into our conversation. "Deliver the Ralifarin!"
The Gatekeeper turned around, his skin as pale as snow. "No," he said, his voice shaking.
I turned to look, and stifled a scream.
The thing had broken into the passage, its hideous eyes boring into us.
"You will never have it," the Gatekeeper said, picking up a scroll from the pile in my arms.
"Idiot!" the thing roared.