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A memory

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User avatar Noailiat
Pupae Pupae
Posts: 5
Joined: 29 Jun 2022, 23:19
Location: UK

Subject: A memory

Post Posted: 29 Jun 2022, 23:30

The young boy picked up the skull, frowning at it curiously as he knelt before the fireplace. It was strangely square in shape. Two empty eye holes glared at him furiously from beneath a strong, fierce brow, while a mouthful of sharp teeth snarled out between two strong-looking tusks. The flickering shadows cast by the fire that blazed warmly in the hearth gave the ancient object a macabre semblance of life.

“What was this, Grandpa?” he asked innocently.

The old warrior smiled fondly as he reclined in his chair. “It was a Skaarj.”

The boy’s bright green eyes widened. For him, the Skaarj had always been the stuff of legend: faceless reptilian horrors sent to plague the nightmares of naughty children.

“For real?” he breathed.

The old warrior nodded. “I don’t know why I kept it, exactly,” he said. “Perhaps I just needed the reminder of how the times have changed.”

“Tell me about them,” the boy begged, bringing four hands together in a gesture of prayer. “Please…”

“Oh, Nati…” the old warrior sighed, “you know your mother doesn’t like me to talk to you about those days.”

The boy stood, drawing himself up to his full, rather puny height.

“I’m almost nine,” he declared. “I’m old enough to know.”

The old warrior smiled faintly. “All right,” he said evenly. “I’ll tell you about the last battle we ever fought against them. How does that sound?”

“Yes, yes!” the boy cried, settling down eagerly on the warm rug at his grandfather’s feet.

The old warrior chuckled at his youthful enthusiasm.

“It was a beautiful dawn: that, I recall. We climbed the cliff and struck out across the great plateau. The twin suns were rising, lighting up the scattered clouds with flares of vermillion. Rocks danced between the two moons.

“The Skaarj had been tearing each other apart for years, thanks to the endless infighting between the different factions, and their visitations to our world had become fewer and further between. But friends of ours had sent word that a small group of them had been sighted at Shahari Bay, picking over the remains of the old Skaarj base there.

“As we trailed across the dew-soaked grass, we had no real idea that we were heading towards our final encounter in a long history of resistance. We planned to surprise them from above, pressing the height advantage with the element of surprise.

“It turned out to be a rag-tag bunch: a tiny group of tired Skaarj survivors with damaged armour and battered weapons. They had landed in a small spacecraft scorched with battle scars, and they were picking over the wreckage of the base, looking for anything that might help to keep their broken-down old ship going for a little longer. It seemed almost cruel to take up arms against a squad that was so obviously exhausted and ill-prepared… but Motanisha persuaded me that they would not hesitate to attack us if the positions were reversed.

“The fight was short but furious, the outcome a foregone conclusion: we had the superior position and superior weaponry. But, amidst the slaughter, a stray rocket tore a chunk from the cliff and my old comrade fell.”

The old warrior paused to wipe a tear from one crinkled eye.

“Motanisha, my brother-in-arms… it still grieves me to think that he never saw our world achieve total freedom. But I feel he already knew, in his heart, that the end of our troubles was finally approaching.

“We descended the steep path down to the beach to examine the wreckage and make sure that we had found and defeated all the Skaarj. Juura boarded the shuttle and found a way to send it flying out into the sea. I expect it lies there still, buried deep in the ocean floor.

“It was then that the Skaarj captain surprised me. He sprang forth from among the debris of an old storage chamber at the back of the base. At such close quarters, my ranged weapon was useless… but thankfully…”

“Your sword?” the boy asked, springing eagerly to his feet. Setting the skull down on the mantelpiece, he reached up and lifted the weapon reverently down from where it hung above the fireplace. The red gemstone at its hilt glinted in the flickering light, as if charged with its own inner fire.

The old warrior nodded. “I acted on pure instinct. In one sweep of the blade, the captain’s head was parted from his shoulders: the fight was over, and peace was restored to the bay. We were alone, save for the lapping of the waves and the cries of the gulls on the sea breeze.”

“Wowwww…” the boy breathed, turning the heavy old weapon over and over in his four hands. It sat safely in its leather scabbard, the keen cutting edge out of harm’s way. He wondered if his grandfather still ever took the time to sharpen it. “And the skull…?”

The old warrior scratched his head. “I think it must have been Theoda who took the captain’s head with him. He always did have a strange sense of humour.”

The boy glanced back at the skull, which glared back at him with a pathetic sort of melancholy. Then he grinned.

“That was an awesome story, Grandpa!” He straightened up, standing proudly before the fireplace with the sword by his side. “When I grow up, I want to be a Van’thaal… a sworn champion, just like you!”

The old warrior chuckled and, with an effort, rose to his feet, heaving his stiff joints and tired bones out of the soft, weathered chair.

“Nati, my boy,” he said kindly, lifting the sword gently from the boy’s clutching hands and returning it to the two hooks on the chimney breast, “it has been many long years since we have needed a champion… and I thank the Gods of the Good Lore for it.”

The boy pouted slightly. “It’s not fair,” he grumbled.

The old warrior embraced his grandson, folding his arms around the boy’s narrow shoulders.

“One day, my boy, you’ll understand. Peace is a gift.”

“Luca?” came an enquiring voice from two rooms away. “Are you still up telling tales?”

They both looked up, and a guilty look stole across the old warrior’s face. “We’re just finishing up now, dearest,” he called back. He turned back to the boy and winked. “It’s bedtime now, Nati,” he whispered. “We’d better go, or we’ll both be in trouble with Granny Halil.”

“Aww, but…”

“Hush, little one,” the old warrior said. “There’ll be time for more tales another day.”

The boy sighed. “Okay, Grandpa.”

In the fireplace, one of the logs settled and split, sending a shower of sparks dancing up the chimney. Placing two arms tenderly around the boy’s shoulders, the old warrior led him from the room.

User avatar ividyon
Administrator Administrator
Posts: 2346
Joined: 12 Nov 2007, 14:43
Location: Germany
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Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 00:19

What a rare visitor! Another great story to tickle the imagination, and no doubt mixing in sentiments close to the author's heart. Nice to read some familiar names again.

Definitely my favorite 2022 fan fiction so far, easily eclipsing the competition of... um... The Six Shells, I guess...?

Thank you very much for the pleasant read.
UnrealSP.org webmaster & administrator

User avatar Noailiat
Pupae Pupae
Posts: 5
Joined: 29 Jun 2022, 23:19
Location: UK

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 00:36

ividyon wrote:What a rare visitor! Another great story to tickle the imagination, and no doubt mixing in sentiments close to the author's heart. Nice to read some familiar names again.

Definitely my favorite 2022 fan fiction so far, easily eclipsing the competition of... um... The Six Shells, I guess...?

Thank you very much for the pleasant read.


Thank you! 8)

I’ve been doing a LOT of writing lately in ‘real life’, but I haven’t touched fanfic in nearly twenty years. This was just a random whim to see what I could come up with in basically one hour!

User avatar salsaSkaarj
Gilded Claw Gilded Claw
Posts: 1860
Joined: 21 Apr 2009, 21:54
Location: on the prowl

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 09:42

Wow ...
Generally I'm no fan of these short stories but this had me hooked from word 7. You've certainly got some writing talent!
This was more than a pleasant read: I almost got emotional.

Nice start to the day.

User avatar Noailiat
Pupae Pupae
Posts: 5
Joined: 29 Jun 2022, 23:19
Location: UK

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 09:54

salsaSkaarj wrote:Wow ...
Generally I'm no fan of these short stories but this had me hooked from word 7. You've certainly got some writing talent!
This was more than a pleasant read: I almost got emotional.

Nice start to the day.


You’ll make me blush! :shy:

Those of you who’ve been around for a while - you all know I’m really Hellscrag, right? It used to be the worst kept secret; not a secret at all, really… ;)

Writing’s kind of my thing these days. I’m trying to get published.

User avatar salsaSkaarj
Gilded Claw Gilded Claw
Posts: 1860
Joined: 21 Apr 2009, 21:54
Location: on the prowl

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 12:56

Noailiat wrote:Those of you who’ve been around for a while - you all know I’m really Hellscrag, right? It used to be the worst kept secret; not a secret at all, really… ;)

I was a secret to me, but I won't hold it against you 8)

User avatar ividyon
Administrator Administrator
Posts: 2346
Joined: 12 Nov 2007, 14:43
Location: Germany
Contact:

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 13:47

Noailiat wrote:
salsaSkaarj wrote:Wow ...
Generally I'm no fan of these short stories but this had me hooked from word 7. You've certainly got some writing talent!
This was more than a pleasant read: I almost got emotional.

Nice start to the day.


You’ll make me blush! :shy:

Those of you who’ve been around for a while - you all know I’m really Hellscrag, right? It used to be the worst kept secret; not a secret at all, really… ;)

Writing’s kind of my thing these days. I’m trying to get published.


Well, yeah, duh! :D

And ooh, professional writing. Is this on top of the city planner job (It's become a favorite subject of mine in terms of YouTube video essays lately) or turning a new leaf entirely?
UnrealSP.org webmaster & administrator

User avatar Noailiat
Pupae Pupae
Posts: 5
Joined: 29 Jun 2022, 23:19
Location: UK

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 30 Jun 2022, 13:59

ividyon wrote:Well, yeah, duh! :D

And ooh, professional writing. Is this on top of the city planner job (It's become a favorite subject of mine in terms of YouTube video essays lately) or turning a new leaf entirely?


It’s a sideline, albeit one that matters a lot to me. Even if my current novel is good enough to attract a literary agent (which is looking uncertain at the moment), there’s a long distance between getting a book published and actually making enough money off writing alone to live off the proceeds - not to mention the pressure that puts on you to keep going!

It would be a shame for a passion project to morph into a burden.

User avatar AlCapowned
Skaarj Elder Skaarj Elder
Posts: 1145
Joined: 19 Dec 2009, 22:25

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022, 17:01

A great read from you, as always! I still think your Kira series could make for an excellent campaign.

User avatar Noailiat
Pupae Pupae
Posts: 5
Joined: 29 Jun 2022, 23:19
Location: UK

Subject: Re: A memory

Post Posted: 02 Jul 2022, 18:15

AlCapowned wrote:A great read from you, as always! I still think your Kira series could make for an excellent campaign.


Well, the first Kira story is pretty much Unreal. The second... I have to admit that I once started building the inside of the castle from the beginning of the second story, but I did a terrible job of it and then moved onto other things! But, yes, the other locations in the story were kinda envisaged as maps would look.

Thanks for reading!


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