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Submit a short story with a fiction genre! Try to keep it fairly short.
THE PRIZES ARE:
1st place: Rates on five of your articles and comments on three!
2nd place: Rate's on three of your articles and comments on two!
3rd place: Rate's on two of your articles and a comment on one.
runner up: A rate or comment!
CONTEST ENDS WHEN I DECIDE THERE IS ENOUGH PEOPLE ENTERED! :D
The [GAME] part 1
Green rings flash around a mysterious figure, marking his first time in the [GAME]. He stood tall, with broad shoulders, and long light blue hair sweeping past bright red eyes, which opened in shock. The flashings subside, and he looked around in fearful confusion. He managed to mutter aloud, “What?” before falling backwards. This was unfortunate, because at that moment, he had spawned on the top of an abnormally steep hill.
At the foot of the hill, the man landed on his face, getting quite a lot of rubble smashed on top of him. After a bit of struggling and yelling, he got the largest of the rocks off him. He looked around in amazement, viewing grassy green hills with flowers and wild animals scattered about. He said to himself, “I don’t think we’re in New York anymore…”
The creatures he saw were different from normal animals. Scurrying through the grass was tiny Sphinxes and Chimaeras, and even a miniature hydra or two. Flying up in the air were bright blue penguins with swords often yelling out the odd “Dood!” and blowing up at the most inopportune times, and farther away were some creatures that looked oddly like dragons. The man even saw a lake in the distance, most likely filled with horrible water monsters.
He then found himself in front of a smaller pool of water, and what was reflected frightened him.
He first noticed his hair and eyes, but what he saw next was his strange outfit. He wore a light brown shirt, thick brown pants, along with dark boots and dark gloves. But what got his attention was the scabbard at his side, filled with a dangerous blade, which he refused to touch in fear.
While the man looked at himself in the reflection, he was unaware of a fast approaching presence. If he had paid attention, he would have noticed the snapping of twigs and the flashes of armor. But when he had entered the [GAME], he lost all track of reasoning. This could lead to his being attacked, and eventually did.
A man burst forth from the tall grass and yelled, “Die, you son of a goat-herder!” This man already had a sword out, ready to cleave the new arrival in two. The first man raised his arms in a pitiful defense, knowing that he was going to die, as the second man sprinted towards him too fast to dodge.
But fortunately, the second man tripped on as loose root sticking up from the earth, and just as suddenly as he arrived, he was face-first on the ground.
Although the first man knew this guy would most likely keep trying to kill him, he felt sorry for him and wanted to help. He offered the man his hand to help him up.
“Thank you, my good man,” The second one spoke as he rose up off the ground. He was only slightly shorter than the first fellow, and had long bright green hair swept backwards out of brilliant amber eyes. He looked extremely intelligent, but also held an air of madness to him.He brushed himself off, put his weapon away, and continued. “You certainly are skilled to have dodged my- umm- super awesome tripping explosion of epicness attack. I, Auric Primum, applaud ye. What is the name of the warrior who so elegantly defeated me?”
The first man looked at him and was quiet for a moment, but then began to laugh. He could not stop himself. Although he was confused and shocked, this Auric fellow still managed to act in such an insane and gleeful manner, it elated him to no end.
Auric misinterpreted the man’s laughter for that of a mocking one. He drew out his sword once again, and spoke in an angered tone, “See here mystery man. If you do not cease with your rude use of the guffaw, I shall have to attack once more!”
After a minute, the man finally stopped laughing, and turned towards Auric. As he wiped under his eye in a symbolic sort of way, he sighed happily. He said, “Be calm my friend. It is just that this is my first time in the [GAME], and you seem unlike the type that would be accepted as a beta tester, like me. To answer your question, I am Satroes Quintus, the mage. It is an honor to make your acquaintance.”
The two shook hands and were laughing at their foolishness, when Satroes suddenly stopped.
“What is wrong Satroes? Some mutton not settling well?” Auric pondered, already rummaging in his traveling pouch for medicine.
Satroes turned back towards the amazing view in front of them and asked, “What is this place we’re in? Is this truly the [GAME]? I thought it to be a simple game, for which I would have been paid a fine price for being a beta tester. And for that matter, how did you get here, for I did not see any Auric in the tester file. Neither in Alpha, nor Beta.”
Auric laughed and then, seeing the Satroes was not joking, turned serious. He spoke quickly and earnestly.
“If you’re that new here, then you must not have heard the reports…”
Satroes could tell that Auric could barely contain a saddened sigh as he sat down on the grass and patted a spot in front of him.
“You might want to sit down for this, my newly found friend. It will come as a bit of a shock,” he said, with all lightheartedness in his tone now gone.
All Of Us
Michaela Lang awoke with a start. She looked around and saw all her friends staring at her. “What happened?” she croaked. Her best friend Tyler Flowers let out a whoop and held out her hand to Terrylee Brewer, Michae’s best friend from drama camp, who rolled her eyes and placed a ten dollar bill in the other girl’s hand. Michae raised an eyebrow.
“Tyler bet that you would say, ‘What happened?’ and I bet that you would say, ‘Where the Fiji am I?’” Terrylee explained with a dirty look in Tyler’s direction.
“Now that you mention that, where the Fiji am I?” Michae asked. Terrylee snatched her money back and exchanged glares with Tyler.
“Hey, Terrylee? Do me a favor,” said Cayden, Tyler’s brother. Terrylee’s face softened and she turned to him.
“You know I will, Cayden,” she told him lovingly. He smirked and held out a hand.
“Let me have ten bucks.” Michae rolled her eyes as Terrylee immediately handed it over and ‘accidentally’ let their fingertips brush.
“Now that we’re all debt free, would someone please tell me what’s going on?” Michae asked/ordered firmly.
“Sure, Michae. I will,” said a deep voice unexpectedly. Michae’s heart jumped in her mouth and she nearly choked.
“Reece?” she breathed. Reece Harris nodded his blond head and pushed his glasses back up his nose bridge- a gesture that any ordinary person would have found nerdy. However, Michae was not an ordinary person and she found it extremely attractive.
“Well, Cayden, Terrylee, and I all went to the movies together to see a really stupid movie-“He was cut off by a squeal of protest from Terrylee, who had picked out the movie. Cayden sighed and put a hand over her mouth. She immediately shut up and Reece continued. “Alright, so we got there and we didn’t have enough money for tickets to anything. Terrylee called you and asked you to come and join us. Of course, she just ‘happened’ to mention that I was there, and that sped up the process a little to much…..you kind of banged your head in to a tree in your rush to get here and you got knocked out.” He smiled narcissistically. “You were apparently to busy thinking about me to watch where you were going.” Terrylee scoffed and muttered something about egotistical nerds through Cayden’s hand. Tyler raised her eyebrows at her brother’s hand and he took it away quickly to reveal a smiling Terrylee. She quickly wiped off her grin, but there was still a hint of a smile around the corner of her lips.
The [GAME] part 2
As Satroes sat in front of Auric, so began the tale of not only how they got where they were, but also how possibly over a hundred other people were stuck there as well.
It all started with the advancement in gaming technology. With motion sensors and 3D visuals, it was surprising that people had not thought of it sooner. A gaming company known as GX rose up with new plans for advanced integrated gaming capabilities.
Satroes stopped Auric then with a questioning glance and a confused, “Advanced what? I don’t speak gamer; I just signed up to test this for the payroll.”
“Sorry,” Auric said, chuckling slightly, “Uh- how do I put this…? Well, GX pretty much created a way to get the gamer into the game he or she was playing. Of course no one could hurt you in the games- that would have cost us too many lawsuits. But going onwards-”
“Hold on.” Satroes piped in once again at this moment. “You just said us. Are you part of GX?”
Auric suddenly took an immense interest in a blade of grass he was turning betwixt his fingers, humming a tune as if he had not heard.
Satroes spoke louder, “Auric, are you telling me that you and this company made me test this game where you are actually in it?!”
Auric turned away from Satroes like a young child just caught thieving. He mumbled apologies and then raised his voice slightly to say, “You did agree to the terms of service…”
“Nobody reads those things!” Satroes yelled, finally getting to his feet, with his face red with frustration.
Auric slumped over and spoke in a sad tone, “I know, but it wasn’t my fault, I was just in charge of making the monsters here.”
But Satroes refused to listen to Auric at the moment. He walked off, in the direction of a faraway forest. Auric followed after him, and as Satroes grew calmer, he began to grin. Eventually, he turned back to Auric and clapped him on the back. He said in a now cheery tone as he walked, “Well this is not all bad. Although I don’t play games as much as some other people I know, this seems like a pleasant venture. I know! I’ll tell my friends about the [GAME] so we may all adventure together.”
He turned to Auric and asked, “How do I get out of the [GAME], Auric?”
Auric stopped smiling and started fumbling about with some explanation.
“Well- um- you see- I don’t really…” With this Auric started mumbling apologies once again, and it finally dawned upon Satroes why he seemed so sad.
He couldn’t believe what he was about to ask. It defied what was right in the world. But he knew he had to ask the one question keeping him from a normal life from then on out.
“We can’t leave the [GAME], can we?”
Auric looked downward and spoke up finally, in a way lost of all hope, “No. But that’s not even the half of it.”
Satroes felt like weeping over how he would most likely never see his family again. But then he registered all of what Auric had said. And he reached his breaking point.
“What do you mean worse? What could be worse than being trapped in a video game, never to see friends and family ever again?!” Satroes knew he was yelling, and he had no right to treat Auric in that manner, but for the moment he did not care. He had lost everything, all because he had wanted to make a bit more money after losing his job at the pawn shop. Because of a bit of cash, he had lost all contact with everyone he had ever known. He wanted to know what Auric thought was so bad that was worse than losing everything he had ever owned or loved.
Auric looked straight at him, suddenly showing a more serious side than he had shown before. He shook his head, and looked off in the distance toward a dark mountain range, watching the now setting sun.
He spoke with earnest and a calm Satroes never knew anyone could express.
“Someone outside the [GAME] has set up a special system. With this technology, they initiated a reality code. From then on out- everything that happened in here actually hurt the player. I had to enter the [GAME] after the death count reached the double-digits. Whoever took control of the [GAME] left enough of a residual information trail that I could track them to the [GAME]. Whoever is killing off players is in here as well. And most likely, they are going to kill us all.”
Satroes fell to his knees, releasing a gasp as he fell. He had thought there was nothing left they could take from him, but apparently someone also wanted to take his life, to end this horrible day of mistakes.
“What are we going to do?”
Satroes could barely understand the words as they escaped from his lips. He turned to Auric, who was still looked to the setting sun, and asked again, “What can we do Auric?!”
Auric stayed where he was and uttered a few words of encouragement for the last time that day. Satroes kept asking for advice, but Auric would not have any of that. And as Satroes lay wide awake in the pitch black darkness, listening to the sounds of the creatures that were created by a man not ten feet from him, he reflected on Auric’s words of sentiment earlier.
Auric had said, “I hope you’re a prayin’ man, because we could use all the help we could get. Thing are only going to get worse from here on out, and we most likely won’t live to see the next setting of the sun.”
Well... mine are longer than my opponents... but they're still short...
I'll submit three (hope that's allowed): The Piano of Rehgale (If I can't submit three do this one), Adrenaline, and Fishies. Enjoy ;)
okay thats fine!!! i need more submissions anyway!
The [GAME] part 3
Satroes awoke with the bright sun rising, warming his face in contrast to the cold grass he lay upon. For a second, he couldn’t figure out why he had fallen asleep on the ground. Had he gotten locked out his apartment again? He heard a loudly obnoxious cawing noise above him, and looked up to see a dark bird with ruby-like eyes staring at him. It was easily the size of a car, and its loud caws were likean obnoxious car horn, traveling through the area.
He yelled out in fear, suddenly remembering where he was. Auric awoke with the scream and looked up to see the bird. He grunted and laid his head back down again.
Satroes jumped up and moved back away from the giant bird flying low near them. He turned to Auric and asked in worried tone, “What is that?! Shouldn’t we, like, run?!”
Auric just lay where he was for a moment, then he sat up and rubbed his eyes. He looked up again and said, “Ah, tis just a Helbird. They’re good for newbies like you, so I’ll just leave you to it.”
Satroes looked at him as if he had suddenly grown wings, and asked, “And how exactly do you expect me to attack? There wasn’t really any tutorial…”
This caused Auric to sigh and stand up, speaking in a monotonous tone.
“Very well. I shall be your tutorial. Okay, first, you should never turn your back to your enemy, as that will most likely end in a bloody and horrible death.”
“Umm, okay…” Satroes faced the monster head on, trying not to look at it in its beady red eyes.
Auric continued. “Alrighty. Rule two for fighting monsters in the [GAME], is to pull out your beginner weapon. Now, it may not be what you expect, since the corruption of the [GAME] has been causing things to malfunction.”
Satroes nervously looked at the sword at his side, which he shakily pulled out.
When he had signed up and made his character, he had chosen to make him a mage, since he was usually bad with weapons. But here he was, holding a long straight blade with runic etchings along the edges, glowing red in the morning sun.
He held up the blade and Auric whistled.
“I say! That is a rune blade! You are very lucky to start out with one of those, although, mages aren’t usually able to wield them. Most of the time they’re given to warriors so they can use a few combat spells. I’m not sure how this is going to work with a mage using a magic enhanced weapon… But moving on, the next thing you must do is- fight!”
Auric then decided that he should push Satroes toward the Helbird without warning, much to Satroes’ shock. Satroes stumbled a bit and looked up to see that the bird had landed, and was hopping forward quickly.
The [GAME] part 4
Satroes tried to back away, but was not fast enough. The bird was upon him, and with enormous speed, pecked at his arm, creating a deep gash. He gasped out in pain as he backed up a bit, holding his sword a bit higher.
As the Helbird sprung forward again, Satroes was ready. With all the strange things that had happened, all the fear and confusion, he put all his feelings into destroying this bird, with one fatal swoop of the blade.
And it was over. Just as suddenly as it had begun, the beast was dead on the ground, already fading from the [GAME] forever. In its place, it left a few pieces of gold, and some strange scroll. Satroes glanced at Auric, who nodded and said, “Go on. It’s your gift for defeating your first monster, a title. It’s always something different depending on the player, so this should be a pleasant surprise.”
Satroes knelt down and picked up the gold, putting it in his pocket for safekeeping. He then reached out and picked up the scroll. He stood back up and unrolled it, unsure of what it would be.
Written on the scroll was many different languages, but at the top it read, “Congratulations! You have earned the title: Satroes Quintus- Hexblade.”
As soon as he had read it, the scroll changed into a sort of metal badge, written on it was- “Satroes Quintus: Hexblade.”
Auric looked at the badge and spoke up again, saying, “Hmm. Never heard of a mage being called Hexblade, but then again, I was only in charge of monsters…” He wandered off in a long rant about the importance of game planning, and how he would’ve made the game have more of a point, but Satroes was no longer listening.
He wandered off, not caring if he was attacked. He was simply a low level player, not someone strong enough to defend himself through this whole game. Come to think of it, he didn’t even know if Auric was as strong as he acted. It was very likely that they would both die within the week. He didn’t want it to be true, but if there were as many people as he thought, he had to accept the possibility.
Auric was walked slightly behind him, continuing with whatever he was explaining. Satroes was beginning to naturally tune him out, so he didn’t pay attention to Auric’s warnings until they were too late.
They were suddenly at the edge of a chasm, with a low lake carved into the stone at the bottom. As Satroes saw this giant pit at last, he was caught off guard, and his foot slipped, rocks crumbling beneath him.
“Satroes!” Auric yelled out, grabbing for his new friends hand. He caught the edge of his hand, hooking on immediately. But the force pulled him as well, nearly sending both of them down to the bottom. Fortunately, Auric got a hold on the edge of the pit, still keeping his hold on Satroes.
“I would really appreciate you not letting go.” Satroes said with a sigh. Auric held on fast, but unknown to Satroes, his grip was slipping. He spoke with a slight worry to his tone.
“Umm, how mad would you be if I told you couldn’t hold on?”
Satroes paused for a moment before feeling his hand begin to slip from Auric’s vice. He looked up at Auric and said simply, “Well, this sucks.” And his hand was released, freeing him to the laws of gravity.
For a second, it felt as if Satroes was free from everything. There in the darkness, with only the wind blowing past him, it became clear. He had to win. Nothing, not even hell itself, would keep him from going to the top. For his family, for his friends. Mostly though, he would find a way out for Lillian’s sake… He wasn’t sure where he stood with her, but now, he wanted the chance to make a choice.
Then just as suddenly, he crashed harshly into the lake at the bottom, paralyzing him with the sudden shock of cold. He gasped in pain, and with that, felt the freezing fresh water flood into his mouth.As he fought the darkness that began to surround him, he thought he heard a noise next to him. He twisted to the side, and just as he felt himself slipping to unconsciousness, he saw a dark figure with flowing hair blooming through the water, as the mysterious female reached toward him.
And it all faded into the watery darkness.
Since you posted your story in parts I will judge them each by themselves.
IMPORTANT: TO ANYONE WHO ENTERED MULTIPLE ARTICLES:
ONLY ONE OF YOUR ARTICLES CAN PLACE IF ANY. I DON'T THINK IT WOULD BE RIGHT TO GIVE THE FIRST THREE PLACES TO ANY ONE SUBMITER BUT IF YOU HAVE SUBMITED MORE THAN ONE ARTICLE YOU HAVE A HIGHER CHANCE OF PLACING!
SO KEEP SUBMITING PEOPLE!
LIMIT THREE ARTICLES PER PERSON..
Aww... There was a fourth part... but oh well.
oh sorry about that
Meh, it's okay. Here's the summary of part four:
He defeats the monster, gains a title, and falls down a deep pit, falling unconscious in the fridged water below.
Just wanted to explain so the story doesn't hang at an edge.
okay thanks, i might make a novel contest. you could enter all the parts in it as a whole story then.
I would like to enter my short story Homeless in your contest.....thanks :)
Thank you everyone for your excellent short stories, I'm hoping to get at least six more entries before I determine the winners. If there aren't six more by the end of August I will decide the winners before september.
Up to 3 per person? then i'll enter my short stories: 'Colors of war' and 'The Great Escape'
I'd like to enter my short story, "The Interview," which is on the second page of my profile, as well as the following piece (I have to split it into two separate posts in order for it to post on the site, but it is still just one piece). Thank you, and please enjoy!
Hearing the rustle of footsteps behind me, I reloaded my rifle, trying to do as quietly and swiftly as possible. I whipped around but, seeing who was there, dropped my aim--- Drevin stood right there, his hands in the air, and even though he was attempting to remain calm, I could tell he grew alarmed at the scare of being shot at.
"Wouldn't shoot your own battle buddy would you?" he asked once he realized it was just me, casually placing his arms back at his sides, but I glared at him, not answering. "You seem jumpy tonight," he continued cautiously, noticing that I wasn’t in the best of moods.
"You wouldn't believe what I have seen tonight...” I finally answered, choosing my words carefully. I sat the butt of the rifle on the ground, the leaves beneath it being crushed with a muffle crackle, and I leaned on it gently. The gun was so long that it easily reached up the length of my waist. Of course, it didn’t help that I was of a fairly short stature, but it was nonetheless quite lengthy.
“What do you mean? What happened?” Drevin questioned, curiosity creeping in his voice. The leaves of the surrounding trees rustled faintly, the night breeze soothing them to sing. I cocked my head to the side, not softening my expression.
“It has to do with you, actually,” I replied slowly, letting my words and tone sink in, and when Drevin took on an expression of confusion, I gripped my rifle more tightly. He didn’t have anything to add to that, so I continued on, “We found out about an informant, Drevin. That is to say, one informing about us to the Reds, not the other way around.”
“But what does that have to do with me?” he asked, voice barely above a whisper.
“The exact identity of the snitch hasn’t been determined, though there are a few suspects. We know this person would have to frequently take leave to exit the camp, and that he or she would be in the First Brigade, Twenty-Second Infantry. Our section.”
“Where is this going...?”
“You know where this is going, Drevin. Don’t act stupid,” I snapped, my discourse short and clipped like usual, eyes flashing. “We know it’s you.”
“Wha-what?” he stammered. “I would never betray us! I swear, I haven’t spilled anything, not a word. What about the other offenders you mentioned?”
“There are just two others, though you are the prime suspect. Orders were to shoot all of them without trial in case there were more than one. Tonight.”
“But Dakota-- you know I wouldn’t do anything like that! You know me! Come on, we’re battle buddies! Can’t you put in a word in for me...can’t you try to tell them that I’m innocent? They’d believe you, I’m sure of it.”
“Question is, I’m not sure what I can believe. Ever since the world had split off into various states began to fight amongst each other, it has nearly impossible to trust anyone out of our respectable Color. But now, I can’t even have that comfort? I have to worry about whether or not I can believe what my own comrades tell me? I thought I knew you, yes, but I’m not so positive about that anymore. What do you do, anyway, all those times you’re gone, hm?”
“I...” he trailed off for a moment, before flashing back to the present. “I am not a spy! I tell you, I would never trick the Greens!”
“See-- you can’t even tell me where you’ve been going! Maybe if you told us, your life would be spared, but you can’t even come up with a lie. Not time, at least, now that we’ve finally caught you. Just now, you were returning from where, exactly?” I raised my hand in the air, the one not holding my rifle, in the air with incredulous skepticism. How could he so bold as this-- didn’t he know when he was beat?
“Dakota...I haven’t been doing what you think I’ve been doing.” His tone now was calm and flat, as if he was trying to subdue my anger.
“Do I need to ask you again? Then what exactly have you been doing‽” I locked my jaw and strengthened the grip on my gun. At this point, it didn’t matter to me how long we had been friends-- I would shoot him, if it had to come to that.
“I can’t tell you. I wish I could, but I just can’t. Please, trust me on this one. It’s for the betterment of everybody.” Finally, he seemed to realize how grave my outrage was, and he licked his lips, growing nervous.
“Oh really, then why can’t you tell the reason for that? Does it has to do with Green material that I haven’t been cleared to know yet?” I asked, rolling my eyes. I had practically top clearance, so I highly doubted that was the case.
“Ah...no. That’s not why. It’s...it’s nothing. Please, trust me on this one.”
“I can’t, Drevin, you know that. The orders have already been ruled out. You are to be shot on sight, and I’m already bending the mandate by talking to you here.” I lifted my rifle again, and I already knew that everything was all set to fire it.
“I am going to shoot you, now,” I told him calmly, not waiting for him to continue to argue, with the same light air a mother would have used to tell her child that she was going out to pick up some groceries.
Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare, or A soldier who does not feel is a soldier who succeeds. That was our army’s motto, and was what I had always stood by. To forget about it now, just because of a friends --- a former friend, that is --- would be counterproductive. To not shoot Drevin now just because we had laughed together, ate together, fought together...I couldn’t do that, especially me. There has always been a prejudice against women in the upper military levels, and to let him go now only tear down everything I had worked myself up for.
“I have to.”
I narrowed my eyes and ran my tongue across the front of my teeth. My hands were steady---they never shook, not even when my body was practically bursting with adrenaline, not even when I was scared out of my wits. Miles qui non sentire... I recited in my head, focusing the crosshairs on Drevin, who lifted his hands on top of his head and turned his back away from me. It was as if he accepted his fate now, as if whatever he had done to betray us was worth it...
It’s for the betterment of everyone, he had mentioned. What was that even supposed to mean? I shook my head, both physically and mentally, ridding myself of thoughts that were distracting me. That’s just what they, the Reds, would want, for me to hesitate. Well, I’m not going to give them that satisfaction.
My chin began to jut out---a subconscious habit of mine when I concentrate---and I closed one eye, the other focusing on my target. Yes, my target. He was the enemy now, and didn’t even deserve a name anymore.
“Well, you always were a good soldier.”
I smirked at his last words, not bothering to answer as I had already wasted enough time. I didn’t need him tell me that; I already knew I was a ‘good’ soldier-- I was an excellent one, actually, as I didn’t feel emotions. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel any emotions. My finger rested on the trigger, now warm despite the frigid weather and its metal material, and before my hesitation would transform into a change of mind, I pulled it, and didn’t even flinch as rifle sounded, its echo reverberating off the trees and throughout the glen.
His body hung there for a moment, as if it couldn’t believe what I had just done, and then crumpled to the ground without the elegance it had once been filled with while alive. Not lingering on what I had just done, I turned around and headed back towards camp.
The cleanup crew could bury the corpse later.
Three days had passed by before the woman arrived.
The drama about the informant had been swiftly dealt with, and I, along with the other soldier who terminated the two other suspects, received medals for our “bravery” and “honor,” and we were even bumped up to the rank of Private FIrst Class. I accepted it with indifference, though, just as I did with everything else. The medallion was merely more cold metal to finger, and the speech our commander presented in our praise was full with hollow words and meant nothing to me. My eyes were glazed over, refusing to exude any emotions, the whole time, and they continued to stay that way. That is, until the woman came.
She was beautiful, as some would have described her, and exotic with her large hoop earrings and vividly colored skirts that seemed to flow with her each time she took a step. It was difficult to distinguish which Color she come from—it was possible that she was one of the few who didn't associate themselves with any of then, though those people were rare. I never possessed the luxury of owning such items, but I continued on with my business without much more than a brief pause to make sure she wasn’t dangerous. The other male soldiers, however, did not have either the decor or control to cease their shameless ogles. Most women would have relished these stares, or at the very least flushed with embarrassment, but she was different. Instead, she continued walking in her determined pace.
“Do you know someone of authority I can speak to?” Her voice revealed some sort of foreign accent and was halting, as if she wasn’t quite sure what about the mechanics of English, and it took me a moment to realize she was talking to me. I glanced up hastily when I realized there was no one else nearby she could have spoken to, and paused, not quite sure what she was asking. She must have realized that I, being one of the only women on duty, would at least have given her respect.
“I need to talk to someone of authority. It is about Drevin Nikoli. There is a mistake-- a mistake,” she repeated herself when she sensed my confusion, and although she tried to keep her voice calm, I noticed desperation seeping into her tone.
Drevin. Drevin Nikoli. Who is she, anyway, and what does she have to do with him?
“There has been no mistake. He was convicted of treason,” I answered, clenching my jaw and trying to keep from snapping at her.
“No! You must understand. Drevin, he did not do any treason. He is innocent,” she pleaded. The word “treason” seemed to be foreign to her, and it came out like “treez-sahn.”
"No, he not. Everything pointed toward him, and we cannot take any chances," I told her, narrowing my eyes. Why was she insisting that Drevin wasn't a criminal? It's not like anything could have been done about him.
"What about the trial? I must be there for him, to defend him, I– I have proof!"
"There will be no trial. Drevin Nikoli is dead," I told her bluntly, and I could feel my voice begin to falter. No, I most certainly am not going to seem weak in front of this woman. Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare. "He is dead," I repeated, swallowing, then before she could say anything else,
"I killed him."
The woman's jaw dropped, for once at lost for any words. I turned my cheek the other way, feeling myself grow warm. Why was my body acting this way? Drevin meant nothing to me. Absolutely nothing to me. We were just friends, until...until he turned on us. Obviously that woman's "proof" would have been faulty; there's no other explanation for it.
"Is there a problem, ma'am?" a deep voice asked, and my head jerked up, surprised. It was Sergeant Harmar, probably checking up to see why a strange woman had just entered camp. He was probably the least formal out of all the senior authority here, and one of the youngest as well, and most people didn’t take him completely seriously unless we were actually in battle.
“No, everything is all right, sir,” I answered, stiffening my body to a salute. “This lady was just about to leave.”
“You...you killed him? No trial?” the woman asked with horror, switching her gaze between me and Sergeant.
“Miss, three days ago, three privates were convicted of treason against the Green Color and were immediately terminated,” Sergeant answered her, obviously realizing that she had something to do with Drevin or one of the other two that were killed. “These days, we don’t have time for trials, there are just too many other issues to deal with. We can’t take any chances. I’m sorry for your loss, miss, but you must understand what it is like.”
“But Drevin wasn’t even doing anything close to treason, I promise! What proof do you have against him?”
“Former Private Nikoli was conducting suspicious activities with a refusal to explain them,” I answered her formally. “He was given many chances to tell us what he had been doing, but refused to take up on any of them.”
“But...I loved him. He loved me-- we loved each other,” she finally told us, her voice considerably quieter. Her eyes began to water, and she paused, wiping away a tear.
You were...in love? Having an affair...?
I widened my eyes, swallowing again. Drevin, he couldn’t have...he couldn’t have been having an affair with this woman, couldn’t he? There’s got to be a better reason why he didn’t want to explain what he was doing. Other soldiers hired p.r.o.s.t.i.t.u.t.e.s all the time; it wasn’t exactly a huge secret. So why had he been trying to hide it himself? She had to be lying...
“That’s impossible,” I replied, filling my voice with as much venom as I could, “Drevin would not have died just so he wouldn’t have to admit to engaging with a village w.h.o.r.e.” I knew I was being harsh, and perhaps I should have left my emotions out of this, like I always did, but this, this had just gone too far.
The woman flinched, but didn’t back away. “We were going to marry,” she revealed softly, almost more to herself than to us. “He gave me a ring, I have it on right now...” She lifted her hand, flashing her gold ring.
“We don’t care about your silly rings, miss. Former Private Nikoli is dead, a traitor, and an a.s.s.h.o.l.e,” I shot back hotly, and as soon as the words burst out of my mouth, I knew I shouldn’t have said them. But did I regret it? No, it was certainly worth it. Sergeant Harmar blinked in surprise; no one had ever seen me this angry before, not even when the other male soldiers used to mock me for being a woman-- I had made sure of that.
“Private Silva, perhaps you should go back to your dormitory to calm down,” Sergeant ordered, albeit a bit tentatively, and I stalked off, heading towards my bunk. “Miss, there is nothing that can be done for Private Nikoli. I do think it would be best for you to return where you came from at once,” he added when he thought I was out of earshot. “Drevin is a bit of a touchy subject-- we all thought he was dating Private Silva here.”
I paused in my step, fluttering my eyes and taking a deep breath. Sometimes having a lax sergeant was pleasant, especially when it meant people were able to get away with more than a normal sergeant would have allowed, but in other instances his leaking inexperience would be absolutely irritating. Like now.
“Drevin. Nikoli. Was not. My ‘boyfriend,’” I told them, trying to keep myself from creating an outburst-- that was the last thing I needed . “He was a traitor,” I repeated, not caring that my voice was beginning to crack, “and I am glad to have been the one to have killed him.” And with that, I turned around without so much as giving that woman another glance, storming back to quarters.
Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare. Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare. Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare. I am not going to cry. Not in front of everyone else, not in front of anyone, and not in front of even myself. Drevin Nikoli was a renegade and a disgrace to the Greens. That is all. He was not my boyfriend. This is the military. We do not have romantic relations amongst each other, I insisted, not caring that I was beginning to repeat myself. I just had to keep telling myself this-- to drown out Sergeant’s sympathy, to forget the woman’s tears, and most importantly, to be rid of my memories of how Drevin used to be.
He means nothing to me, and he certainly never did. We were just friends, and that was merely it. “Battle buddies,” as he put it. I would never have betrayed my Color for something as frivolous as him. I don’t care what Sergeant Harmar assumes, what that woman thinks, or even what everyone else believes.
A soldier who does not feel is a soldier who succeeds.
Miles qui non sentire est miles qui exsuperare.
I am a good soldier, after all.
An excellent one.
“Charlotte!” I called. Hearing no response from my old nurse, I got up from my paints and easel in search for her. “The stupid old biddy probably can’t hear anything. Mother said her hearing was going out like the tide at dusk,” I muttered with annoyance as I removed my smock and carelessly flung it across the room which revealed my golden taffeta gown. Despite my grumblings, I did love Charlotte like another mother. It was not like my own was very motherly in the first place.
I turned down a corridor in the mansion and found myself face to face with some richly embroidered tapestry that I had never seen before. I gasped with delight at the jewel-toned scene in front of me. It portrayed an ivory palace with an ebony trim, the whole thing encrusted with pearls, rubies, diamonds and- my personal favorite- sapphires. The sky was dark gray behind the palace, with a daring bolt of lightning done in silver and gold thread, the two colors intricately contrasting with each other in a blaze of fashion. There were Japanese gardens with red bridges around it.
The first emotion that came to me was annoyance at the fact that Mother and Charlotte had deceived me. Then again, they didn’t exactly deceive me. They had simply not informed me. But it was so gorgeous! How could they have forgotten to tell me such a thing? Maybe it was a present to me for my fifteenth birthday!
I reached out a hand to touch it-and the whole drapery crashed down. I then realized it
was very old. I had neglected to see the cobwebs and the light coating of dust on it. What was behind it was, on the other hand, so intriguing that I almost forgot about the palace portrait.
A cherry wood door with a bronze knob was gleaming in front of me as though it had been newly polished. I was not a timid child, seeing how I was only fourteen years old and always did whatever I wanted to, so I reached out my hand once more, turned the handle, and let the door swing open.
I heard voices. I recognized my mother’s voice, her deep Austrian accent contrasting sharply with the soft French accent of one of her companions and the strange American accent of the other. They were apparently unaware of my presence, and were in a deep discussion, so I was likely to go unnoticed for quite a while.
“My only daughter is to be married to him for certain now? She is but a child, and he is a full-grown man.” Mother said.
“Madam, I realize the situation may be slightly upsetting to you,” said one of the men with a French accent. Mother scoffed at the word “slightly”. “However, there is absolutely no way for us to detain it any longer. King Louis XIV desires unification with Austria as soon as possible.”
“But she is only fourteen years old! In addition, she knows absolutely nothing of this situation.”
“Well, then, it is time she learnt it!” The American spoke up this time. “Marie-Antoinette is going to be married and has been engaged to the King of France for over two years. It’s a known fact. She might as well know what people have been talking about the last two years. Why didn’t you tell her in the first place and get it over with? You knew full well you could not possibly prevent it, as no one else can.” Here, Mother hesitated. She was normally noble, graceful, and full of confidence, with a ready answer for everything. These men were getting on her nerves, I could tell. It was then when I realized they were discussing me. I stepped back, stunned. I was engaged to a French king? I was fourteen years old! My fingers were itching to close around the man’s throat who had unknowingly informed me of my fate. I took another step backwards, but this time, a floorboard creaked. All eyes turned towards me. Being the center of attention has always been nice, but I had never had this kind of attention, so for once, I did not like it. “Hello, Mother.” I said in a regal and cold voice.
“Marie! I thought you had your painting to attend to.” Mother’s hands were fluttering everywhere as she bustled towards me, her blue silk gown making a rustling sound with every move that she made. She embraced me and I stiffened. This liar had the audacity to give me a hug as if she had not done anything wrong? The nerve! The gall! It was unfathomable.